How we debunked the ‘regeneration’ lie: One year since the People’s Regeneration Show Home

PRSH_macro copy

Last year we turned a smashed empty building into a beautiful family home. This is how we did it.

One year ago, several dozen of us did something remarkable. In the midst of London’s still-ongoing housing crisis, and as Barnet Council and Annington Properties Ltd continued to push for the social cleansing of the Sweets Way estate, we came together to undermine the core argument behind the destruction of our – and so many others’ – homes across London: that the only viable option for the estate was demolition and developer-led regeneration.

Following each family eviction, contractors were unleashed on our former homes, smashing porcelain, wastewater pipes and removing everything short of the doors they used to keep us out. In building after building, we found a pattern of deliberate damage that could only be explained as a way to make these otherwise liveable homes unliveable, in the midst of a housing crisis! The consistency between the buildings made clear that this was not the work of a rogue contractor, but a deliberate strategy to justify the demolition of the estate and to prevent its reoccupation.

But rather than dwell on the sociopathic tendencies of Sweets Way’s legal owners, we decided to prove that there was – and is – an alternative to handing homes to private developers for so-called ‘regeneration.’ In just one week, with found and donated materials, a few hundred pounds and countless hours of voluntary labour, we turned a smashed up shell of a building into a beautiful family home, overflowing with character and the strength of community that made it possible.

Now, one year on, we wanted to share how we did what we did. In July 2016, London is none-the-better-off then it was then. Estates are still being given away to private property developers intent only on making profit from the places we call home. Families are still being pushed out of London and forced to choose between rent, food, bills, furniture and other essentials.

The need for us – all of us – to continue to stand together and take back the homes we need has never been greater. The People’s Regeneration Show Home was one way we tried to do this, and we hope the lessons it offered can be put to use by others working to bring their communities together to shine a light on the regeneration lie and to demonstrate the power of people to create the housing solutions we need.

The PDF below offers a detailed guide to the steps we took to create the show home. Download it, share it, put it to use where you are and feel free to drop us a line [sweetswayresists[AT]gmail.com] if there is anything we can do to help you make it happen!

Love,

Sweets Way Resists

Download the PDF guide here

Here are some of the things the media had to say about the show home:

Sweets Way Community House Under Threat: We Need Your Help

Sweets Way Resists, one of London’s loudest housing protests, has come under threat, after residents were issued with a possession claim on the campaign’s base, 76 Oakleigh Road North.

SW 76 Oakleigh Rd North blogpost processed-2279

The Community House, as number 76 is known, has been a meeting point for evicted families and their supporters for nearly six months. But it is more than that. The Community House is a place of refuge, where parents, and their children, can feel at home amidst a time of great turmoil in their lives. We need your help to prevent this refuge being taken away from the people who so desperately need it.

Sweets Way is a large housing estate in London N20. With 142 fantastic family homes, it could comfortably house over 500 people. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, the families who lived there were forced out and evicted as part of a policy of social cleansing, which will see luxury homes – and a small percentage of nominally ‘affordable’ (but grossly unaffordable) ones – built on the site.

The estate, owned by the Ministry of Defence, was leased for free to a British tax exile who has openly said that he saves money by not visiting his family. In contrast, the former residents of Sweets Way have very little but spare nothing in fighting to keep their community together, and to preserve their families’ sanity.

Guy Hands, the tax exile behind the developer, Annington Homes, left Kent for Guernsey by choice and because of greed. The working class families of Sweets Way don’t have the luxury of choice. They’ve been moved around London and beyond like pawns on a chess-set, breaking hearts and risking jobs and schooling. Together, Annington, the MOD and Barnet Council, have made these families’ lives a living hell.

The Residents of Sweets Way Talk about the Community House (scroll to the bottom to see how you can help)

Anna:
To watch your children stressing about the future with such intensity that they’re crying at night and asking what’s going to happen with us tomorrow, where we’re going to live, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. And the reason for our pain is very selfish. The people who are in charge of caring for the majority simply care more for profit than for people. How can you explain that to a child? As much as I’d like to spare my children, how can I protect them from seeing neighbours being dragged out of their homes? How do you explain that?

The only explanation is that unfortunately there is something wrong with this world and we need to fight to change that. The Community House made our children believe in humanity again, because we’ve encountered so many amazing people through our struggle, and the children have learnt that there are good people, selflessly committed to changing the world to make it better, and that there are many of them. If you are one of them, please stand with us.

The Community House is not only a place of struggle and campaigning, but it’s also a place for our families to recover and support each other after everything we’ve been through. Families from other communities also come here to find solace and understanding. Please don’t take this away from us. We are not the ones in the wrong here. We are only fighting for the rights of ordinary people to have somewhere to live.

Unless you’ve been violently evicted from your home and deprived of all power over something so basic as the roof over your head, it’s hard to understand how such an experience feels. I never thought this would happen to me, none of us did. Our struggle may sound like a faraway prospect for you, but believe us, we once felt exactly the same.

Andy and Zlatka:
We lived in Sweets Way for five years. Since the eviction we’ve been through such terrible stress and sleepless nights, not knowing whether we’ll have a roof over our heads.

We both work in a hospital, but renting a flat is impossible without our wages being topped up by housing benefit. The few units of so-called ‘affordable’ housing that Annington are going to build on this site would take up more than 90% of our salaries. In what way is that affordable?

Please join us, we need your help to save the Community House and keep our campaign and our spirits strong. We never thought we’d be in this situation; we’ve worked our whole lives. It could happen to you.  

Sometimes our seven-year-old son cries at night about losing his friends and having to move schools, on top of all the housing nightmare and uncertainty. The Community House is a home to him.

This is everyone’s struggle and we need to fight it now before it reaches the point of no return. We’re fighting even though we’re tired. If you have any strength at all, join our struggle – for us, for yourselves, for the children.

How you can help:

To defend our Community House, we would be very grateful if you could do one or both of the following:

  1. Come to court with us on the morning of 27th August 2015 to offer moral support, and to let the authorities know that a lot of people disagree with their policy of social cleansing. Please bring banners or make placards if you can, but your presence is enough and would mean so much to us. More details will be available from @SweetsWayN20 or on Facebook Sweets Way Resists, or by emailing sweetswayresists@gmail.com. The address of the court is:Barnet County Court
    St Mary’s Court
    Regents Park Road
    Finchley Central
    London
    N3 1BQ
  2. Write to the following people, telling them that you object to their plans to evict us from our Community House, and to stop the land being used for profit. We’ve included a draft letter (below) for you to copy and paste if you don’t have time to write your own. Please make sure you include your full name and postal address when writing or emailing. And, if you’re a Barnet resident, please state this clearly in your letter.
    1. Annington Homes
      1. 1 James St, London, W1U 1DR
      2. media@annington.co.uk
    2. MOD (Secretary of State for Defence)
      1. Michael Fallon MP, Secretary of State for Defence, Whitehall Buildings, Whitehall, London SW1A 2HB
      2. michael.fallon.mp@parliament.uk
    3. Barnet Homes
      1. Troy Henshall, Barnet Homes, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, London, N20 0EJ
      2. troy.henshall@barnet.gov.uk
    4. Sweets Way’s MP (in the Chipping Barnet Constituency)
      1. Theresa Villiers MP, 163 High Street, Barnet, Herts, EN5 5SU
      2. theresa@theresavilliers.co.uk
    5. The Prime Minister
      1. David Cameron PM, 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA
      2. Use this form to email: https://email.number10.gov.uk/
    6. Housing Ombudsman Service
      1. Housing Ombudsman Service, 81 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4HN
      2. info@housing-ombudsman.org.uk, or use this online complaint form: http://www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/resolve-a-complaint/getting-help-from-the-housing-ombudsman/
    7. Mayor of London
      1. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, Greater London Authority, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, More London, London, SE1 2AA
      2. mayor@london.gov.uk

If we don’t act now we’ll end up with a city where 20 people crammed into one house will be the new norm. A city in which essential workers can no longer afford to live. A city that holds no future for our children.

A city that will fall apart.

Thank you for your support, from the families of Sweets Way

Suggested draft for writing to the people above – please remember that if you are a Barnet resident, you should open by mentioning this in the letter, “As a Barnet resident, I am writing to urge…”. And include your full name and postal address.

Dear X

I’m writing to urge you to stop the eviction of Sweets Way Resists from their protest occupation at 76 Oakleigh Road North, London, N20 9EZ.

I stand with the former residents of Sweets Way N20 in their fight for homes for all. The way these families have been treated – forcibly evicted and dispersed around London (and beyond) – has made their lives a living hell. This treatment is a direct result of a policy of social cleansing that puts profit before people.

76 Oakleigh Road North is affectionately known by former residents of Sweets Way as the ‘Community House’. As well as a protest occupation, it has become something of a refuge for evicted families, somewhere where they can find solace and understanding.

The residents and their supporters have been issued with a possession claim and been summoned to Barnet County Court on 27th August 2015.

I also ask that you use your powers to immediately terminate Annington’s lease on the Sweets Way estate. Give the land to public ownership so that the working class families who lived there, and who so badly need a home, can return.

The former residents of Sweets Way, and their supporters, have the right to protest. I ask that you defend this right, and do everything in your power to prevent their eviction.

Yours sincerely

FIRST NAME SURNAME

ADDRESS 1
TOWN
POSTCODE

EMAIL ADDRESS (if you have one)

ALL OUT FOR SWEETS WAY!

The kitchen of the show home

In the last 48 hours, everything has ramped up at Sweets Way for what is likely to be a major confrontation between those who believe in the right to housing and community, and those who would see London cleansed of all but the wealthiest.

Annington has sent in contractors, Cuddy, to prepare the estate for demolition. Fences have begun to be erected around large swathes of the estate and contractors and security guards have begun to more actively intimidate us.

Yesterday two bailiffs, with two policemen in tow, attempted to deliver court orders to occupiers. However, through a strong showing of people power, we sent them away, peacefully preventing the delivery of the notices.

Meanwhile, Mostafa and his family – the last remaining household on Sweets Way – have been told by Barnet Council’s solicitors that High Court bailiffs will be coming to evict the family on Monday morning.

We will do all that we can do to keep Mostafa in his home. He has been through such mistreatment already, with Barnet repeatedly failing to take on their duty of care for him, due to his disability, and we need a very strong presence on Monday morning to send away the highest level of bailiffs the courts can send.

Can you join us to stand up to the bailiffs on Monday morning, 8am at 46 Sweets Way?

In the meantime, we are opening up the estate this weekend to show off the People’s Regeneration Show Home, the independent nation of Sweetstopia and the state of the estate as a whole.

Join us Saturday, 2-5pm for show home tours, and stick around if you can to help prepare for eviction resistance!

This is truly crunch time for the campaign to save our estate. We are up against giants, but we’ve managed to win some crucial victories, in spite of the odds.

That said, we need your help. The days ahead may decide if Sweets Way will continue to exist as more than a memory of its former residents and those it sparked the imagination of, through our refusal to go quietly into the pages of a future history book.

So come down! If our fight has inspired you, come join us this weekend and Monday morning!

We can still win! But it’s up to all of us to prove it!

D.I.O. Regeneration: Proving that we can Do It Ourselves

PRSH_macro copy

As of last Thursday, Sweets Way Resists had succeeded in regenerating 1/142nd of the Sweets Way estate. We did so in just six days and for about £370, using a lot of volunteer labour and a mix of found and donated materials. We hope that the People’s Regeneration Show Home will encourage others around London and beyond to come together and reclaim – and when necessary rebuild – homes where they are, rather than leaving them in the hands of those who simply see them as investments.

Beyond inspiring others with a little taste of what regular people are capable of doing to a smashed up building, we also showed that we can do Annington’s job – regeneration – better than they can. We’ve shown that the story of private development offering the only route to quality affordable homes is a convenient myth that facilitates the decimation of socially-rented housing stock, for the benefit of private profits. There IS another way.

Remember what we’ve done in this past week every time you hear a council, developer or social housing provider argue that it would be ‘too expensive’ to do anything other than just sell-off public homes or leave regeneration in the hands of the private sector! Why not put that argument to the test?

By our math, if we keep up our regeneration plans at last week’s rate, we could make the entire estate re-inhabitable for a mere £52,540. Which is considerably less than we’re sure Annington have earmarked for the project, or what Barnet Council spend each year on housing benefit given to private landlords.

Needless to say, their regeneration plans are slated to be considerably more expensive and will yield far fewer units below market rent than the current 142 houses. Annington will argue that none were ever social housing, but doing so is simply a distraction from the fact that they were leased as such for the past six years, and so in practice, their regen plans will drastically reduce the number of houses available to those who can’t afford full market rent from 142, to 59. (And those 59 are in themselves a mix of so-called ‘affordable’ homes that will cost up to 80% of market rent, and part-buy-part-let schemes, neither of which will be accessible to the majority of former residents.)

When we went into 153 Sweets Way, its waste water piping had been deliberately destroyed; its toilet and sink were smashed to bits; its upstairs windows were left open, letting rain in. Very few of us have any specialist skills or experience in DIY or renovation work, yet with just a bit of skilled help from a plumber, an electrician and a cabinetmaker, we fixed-up a building that had not simply been left to deteriorate over time, but had been deliberately made uninhabitable by its owners.

Most of us agree that the council should be offering homes to those who need them – but given their abject failure to protect critical housing stock in the midst of a housing crisis, it’s up to all of us to protect and secure the homes we need. Until they prove they can do their job, we’ll do what is needed to keep good homes and strong communities from being torn apart.

We’d call this D.I.Y. but it is more collective, more collaborative than that. None of us could have turned this home around on our own, but together, we can outdo one of the largest property owners in the country at their own game.

This is a D.I.O project – Doing It Ourselves – and we hope that others will take it and run with it wherever they are facing the sell-off and demolition of their homes. It’s up to all of us to find our way out of this housing crisis – let’s continue to prove that we can do it ourselves!

Come to 153 Sweets Way (N20 0NX) to get a sense of what we’re capable of, and learn more about how you might create a People’s Regeneration Show Home on your own estate!

On Saturday (August 8) we’re holding an open day on the estate. You can join us for:

– Our weekly street stall, 11-1 in front of Waitrose on the Whetstone High Road
– Tours of the People’s Regeneration Show Home and it’s smashed up counterpart, the Annington Degeneration Show Home, next door, 2-3pm @ 153 Sweets Way
– An open meeting hosted by Sweets Way Resists and Sweetstopia after the tours looking at ways to protect our estate from demolition.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

UPDATE: People’s Regeneration Show Home launch delayed (like every other regen project, ever)

IMG_20150726_192016

…Apparently 72-hours was a bit ambitious to redo an entire house… so we’ll be working through to Wednesday to highlight the possibility that still exists in each of the homes on our estate.

We hoped we could undo all the reckless damage inflicted on 153 Sweets Way in just 3 days, but Annington’s hired vandals really did a job on the place! A couple more days should give us sufficient time to get 153 Sweets Way ready for a family to live in. And we’ll still have done so for just a few hundred quid, so running late doesn’t mean the price tag is shooting up, like it does with most regeneration projects.

If you want to get involved or come document the process, come on down and join us today or tomorrow, or for the new launch day on Wednesday, between 11am and 5pm.

The house next door is now also open and has been left untouched, as a living record of what Annington does to these buildings to keep people from living in them, which this project is showing an alternative to.

Since we know not everyone is keen to get involved in DIY, we’re also keen for people to come help with feeding those of us doing the DIY work, and tidying up at our community house, as dozens of people come and go all day.

There’s always something you can do to get involved if you’re keen, so come down!

Here’s some pics of the process so far:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Help us rebuild the People’s Regeneration Show Home!

New occupation and community-led refurbishment will highlight that ‘regeneration’ doesn’t need to be another word for ‘social cleansing.’ Come down now and help make it happen!

Good morning London! As most of you started your work days today, dozens of us began to repair the damage inflicted by Annington Properties to one of their buildings – one of our homes – on the Sweets Way Estate.

Today we start work on the ‘People’s Regeneration Show Home’ at 153 Sweets Way (N20 0NX). Over the next 72 hours we will demonstrate that a group of committed and skilled volunteers, with (almost) no money between us, can turn a smashed-up shell of a building, into a lovely family home. And all without the ‘help’ of either the council or private developers.

Can you come down and help us make it happen? Families are welcome!

Shortly after the bulk of the evictions began on Sweets Way, Annington sent in contractors to make the houses unliveable while they prepared to demolish them and build luxury flats in their place. Rather than letting us stay in these homes and avoiding the inhumane evictions they put so many of us through, they paid workers to break windows, strip piping, knock holes in the roofs and smash up the porcelain of dozens and dozens of otherwise-liveable family homes.

This is what some of them looked like!

IMG_20150719_013845

The kitchen of the People’s Regeneration Show Home, after Annington ripped it apart, but before we started refurbishing it.

This morning we started the process of putting one of those homes back together to shine a light on the regeneration racket. Across London, councils and developers work hand-in-glove to argue that it is impossible to maintain – or to build new homes – that people can truly afford to live in. Sometimes they blame austerity, sometimes they blame the conditions of the buildings or unseen market forces, but the result is always the same: private development is the only way forward.

But we’re not having it! Our homes were never in need of a refurb until Annington ripped them apart, and even if they had been, we won’t accept that demolition was ever the only choice. So we’re putting another option on the table: People’s regeneration.

We’re fixing plaster board, replacing flooring, building cabinets, reinstalling plumbing and collecting furniture to make this possible. Can you come join us this weekend?

We’re still a relatively small group, with a very short window of time to make this happen. If you can come get involved, spread the word, contribute some furniture or building supplies, you will help make the case that what we are doing is a viable alternative to the brutal kind of ‘regeneration’ London has come to know!

We hope that this will spread. London has countless homes and whole estates that have been left to get run-down, which a bit of collective action could easily make liveable again.

Regeneration doesn’t have to be a horrendously expensive code word for social cleansing; it can be a collective, sustainable and affordable way for people to come together and improve their homes and their community. We’re just highlighting something communities across London can do wherever they are, to make sure the homes they need are there for those who need them.

So come get involved! Help make it happen on our estate and then take the lessons back to your own! The Councils and developers don’t give a toss about our communities or our homes, so let’s do what is needed to hold on to, create and rebuild the places and spaces that matter to us!

Show up at 153 Sweets Way any time this weekend and get stuck in! We can make this happen!

Get the latest from @SweetsWayN20 / #SWShowHome

Read the press release here.

IT’S TIME TO DEFEND SWEETSTOPIA!

The first passport for the independent state of Sweetstopia

The first passport for the independent state of Sweetstopia

CAN YOU COME VISIT THIS WEEK?

Shortly after we began our occupation of the estate, some other occupiers emerged on the scene. At first we had some tensions, but gradually we have come to see eye-to-eye on the need to keep our homes from being destroyed, in spite of any differences.

The group – though representing a range of views and opinions themselves – number roughly 30 at this point, and have named themselves Sweetstopia. They have gone to great lengths to not only protect a dozen homes, but also to rebuild the damage done by Annington’s contractors, who had ripped out piping and electrics, and smashed up the porcelain in all of our homes, in an attempt to make them unlivable.

The Sweetstopians have made the estate more beautiful, begun growing vegetables, and have been willing to put their bodies in the way to protect our homes.

But now they are under attack, with Annington securing a possession order against them, and its up to all of us to stand with them and make it clear that no planning permission or possession order can justify ripping a community apart.

This coming week is going to be crucial. Any time you can spare to come visit this budding new village will help strengthen them when the bailiffs do arrive.

Whether you’re around to document, to stand up for the estate, or to simply learn more about what is being done, your presence there will be greatly appreciated.

Look for number 95 Sweets Way when you arrive at the estate. Sweetstopia are the houses that are less-ghostly than all the ones that Annington have had their way with!

Join us in stopping the war on Sweetstopia!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

They forgot that we were seeds…

IMG_6540

On Friday we paid another visit to Annington Properties at their 1 James Street address in Central London (feel free to pop by and let them know what you think of their plans, by the way). Given the events of the last couple of weeks, it felt important to let them know we hadn’t disappeared and were just as committed to challenging their ‘regeneration’ plans as we ever have been.

Accordingly, we rolled up with a coffin covered in flowers, and a giant banner emblazoned with the slogan we have adopted from Mexico: ‘They tried to bury us; they didn’t know we were seeds.’

We know that everything about our fight is a David and Goliath-uphill battle, since Annington (and parent company Terra Firma) have the backing of Barnet Council, a Tory Cabinet Minister, and billions of pounds in the bank. However, that is not enough to stop us. Annington and countless other developers have scared others into the silent suffering of those who have been socially cleansed from London, but not us! We know that the very issues we are battling are being felt by literally millions of other Londoners, and that it is our responsibility to ourselves, and to everyone else facing the spectre of gentrification that we stand up and fight it. With every blow they deal us, our resolve to make sure London doesn’t become an enclave for the super-rich just grows stronger.

And that’s why we’ve taken on that Mexican slogan, and why we made that visit to Annington on Friday. We’re not going away. We may be small, but we can continue to break through the concrete of regeneration in a thousand little ways, and will continue to do so as long as Annington acts like their profits are more important than our rights to a home and a community!

CALL OUT FOR URGENT SUPPORT: Sweets Way families ALL given High Court bailiff notices!

IMG_20150323_100607Yesterday, all of the remaining families on the Sweets Way estate were given notice from Annington Properties Limited, that their individual cases – despite later-scheduled individual eviction dates – had been transferred from County Court to High Court Bailiffs, effective immediately!

Though we are going through every legal channel we know to challenge this abusive move by Annington, at this point, HIGH COURT BAILIFFS – WHO IT IS ILLEGAL TO RESIST – WILL ARRIVE AT THE REMAINING SWEETS WAY FAMILIES HOMES ON A MORNING THIS WEEK, WITHOUT NOTICE!

This is truly a horrible move by Annington, placing the order on a Friday when, legally speaking, it is nearly impossible to challenge either the lack-of-hearing made, or that all cases were treated as one, despite differences in individual situations, and expected eviction dates.

We need a few things from all of those who have supported the campaign and who oppose the social cleansing happening across London:

  • Support at the Sweets Way social centre from Sunday night. The social centre falls just outside of the housing protest injunction zone (that Annington got a judge to apply to the estate on March 30), so is close enough to respond to urgent calls first thing in the morning on Monday. If it doesn’t come on Monday morning, we will need people around on the following nights. If you can come to stay and be around for a few hours the next day, please email us to let us know when you can be here, and leave a number we can call you on to arrange times: sweetswayresists@gmail.com
  • Urgent phone calls to Annington. We need to demand that their order to have high court bailiffs execute their possession orders against the families of Sweets Way be set aside IMMEDIATELY. They had County Court possession orders against each of these families already, all of whom have been trying their hardest to find alternatives accommodation that is both affordable and within reach of their family’s health and education needs, to no avail. Now Annington are telling them that the most brutish kind of bailiffs will show up at their doors unannounced, any day now, and turf them out on the street!

You can reach Annington on the following numbers:

  1. 020 7960 7500 (head office)
  2. 0800 358 1118 (sales freephone)
  3. 020 3757 6743 (Andy Martin, media relations)

If you leave them a message, be sure to say:

  • We demand that Annington’s order to have high court bailiffs execute their possession orders against the families of Sweets Way be set aside. Not doing so is cruel and makes an already stressful time unnecessarily traumatic for the families who still call Sweets Way home.

We hope you’ll try to make the trek to Barnet this week and do what you can to help stop Annington and to support all of us here at Sweets Way to fight social cleansing!

PRESS RELEASE: Sweets Way campaigners plan weekend of fun and resistance in new occupation

Sweets Way Resists

Press release – Thursday 2 April

Sweets Way campaigners plan weekend of fun and resistance in new occupation

Residents fighting for their homes have occupied an empty house backing onto the Sweets Way estate in Barnet in ongoing protest at tenant evictions. Campaigners are planning a weekend of community fun and resistance in the property which is part of the ‘Sweets Park’ redevelopment.

On Monday a county court ruled against residents following a three-week political occupation of empty homes including 60 Sweets Way, which had been turned into a thriving social centre and campaign hub. A judge granted full possession of the site to developer Annington Homes, who also requested an injunction preventing people from protesting on the estate.

In a further assault on human rights and an indictment of the court system, campaigners have not been given the details of any potential injunction, even though it potentially criminalises protesters, residents and the public at large.

Immediately following Monday’s ruling, residents and supporters occupied an empty five bedroom house, part of Annington’s ‘Sweets Park’ development area – but just beyond the possession and potential injunction zones. A weekend of fun and resistance is planned in the new occupation, including an ‘Easter Fun Day’, debate and action-planning.

Sweets Way estate is home to over 150 families. Residents were forced to leave their homes in February and moved to temporary accommodation out of the borough. Since then, they have been fighting for the right to go back to the estate and in an effort to stop the development, occupied an empty house, supported by housing campaigns Focus E15 and Barnet Housing Action Group.

Since the occupation began in early March, a handful of residents have been offered temporary accommodation in borough by Barnet Council. But campaigners, known as ‘Sweets Way Resists’, won’t stop until all of the residents are offered suitable alternative housing.

The occupations are a political statement about the criminality of destroying perfectly good houses and replacing them with investment properties. Sweets Way Resists are also staging lunchtime protests at the central London offices of Annington, to shame the company.

Annington (part owned by tax exile Guy Hands worth an estimated £250 million) looks set to make a killing on the London property market. Only 11% of the new properties in the planned redevelopment are being leased as ‘affordable rent’ (80% of market rates).

A spokesperson said: “We’re not going to stop: we’re planning to keep the question of social cleansing on the agenda, and support one another as we fight to protect the estate from demolition and secure decent homes for all residents who have been forced out of Sweets Way.

“Our new occupation has all the makings of a fantastic place for community celebration over the Easter weekend. It’s an outrage that this five-bedroom property lies empty while right next door, people are losing their homes.

“Monday’s court ruling was a predictably unfair legal decision in which private property rights are deemed more important than human rights. As well as granting Annington possession over the whole of the estate, they have proposed an injunction on the site! This is worrying for anyone involved in housing justice work and political protest. In addition, the court has so little respect for us that they have neglected to clarify what the injunction means.

“There’s a Mexican proverb that feels appropriate for us: ‘They tried to bury us, but they forgot that we were seeds.’”

Sweets Way Resists – the fight continues!

Thursday 2 April Lunchtime Protest at the central London office of developer Annington Homes.

See Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1609138512633464/

Sunday 5 April Easter Fun Day, 12-4pm

Easter Egg Hunt, BBQ, Children’s Fun and Games, Bouncy Castle, Arts and Crafts

Egg Decorating, Rabbits, Music

Tuesday 7 April Public Meeting at the new occupation, 7.30pm

The new occupation is at 76 Oakleigh Road North, N20.

Twitter @SweetsWay20

Facebook.com/SweetsWayResists

Sweetswayresists.wordpress.com

Sign the petition on Change.org – 62,000 have signed already!

For more information and interviews please contact Katya 07791018631