aftermath of the battle to defeat the third runway at Heathrow. http://bit.ly/fpG4ps
A group of young people, calling themselves “Grow Heathrow”, set up a market garden and informal community on squatted land in Sipson in 2010. The land had been derelict and was not being used by its owner, Mr Malik. He has been attempting to remove the squtters, who are environmental activists, for the past two years or more. The case for their eviction went to the High Court on Tuesday 15th January. Grow Heathrow say their case is an important challenge to the idea that landlords can leave land empty in the middle of a housing crisis. Mr Malik was given the judgement of possession in July. The basis of Grow Heathrow’s appeal is Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is the right to have a home and family life. On the one hand, Grow Heathrow say they have added “social value” of the garden while it is wrong to keep the owner out of land for which he had paid a six-figure sum. Given the widespread importance of the issues raised by the case, Lords Justice Ward, Lloyd and Toulson are expected to reserve their decision until a later date – probably 14th February.
Jan 15th 2013 (Uxbridge Gazette)
By Jack Griffith
ITS DO or die for the squatters at Grow Heathrow, as they await a high court ruling on their eviction appeal.
The environmental activists who set up and run the Sipson community garden made their presence known outside the Royal Courts of Justice, in The Strand, today (Tuesday), handing out fruit smoothies to passers-by and banging the drum for squatters’ rights.
They had a group of supporters in tow and spirits were high as the latest saga in the legal battle commenced in the courtroom.
Grow Heathrows William Ronan said: This case is an important challenge to the idea that landlords can leave land empty in the middle of a housing crisis.”
Imran Malik, the owner of the contested land in Vineries Close, was given the judgement of possession in July, nearly two years after first serving the eviction notice.
The basis of Grow Heathrows appeal is Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights the right to have a home and if successful, it could set a legal precedent for land use in this country.
The Grow Heathrow group took over the derelict site in March 2010 and created a community.
There is more on this from the Transition Heathrow website at http://www.transitionheathrow.com/
15 Jan 2013
The “Grow Heathrow” group claim they have transformed a scruffy site once used by fly-tippers into an idyllic market garden and eviction will violate their human rights.
And, in the first case of its kind, Appeal Court judges are being asked to decide whether the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) should apply to private landowners.
Imran Malik, who paid £240,000 for the land to the north of Vineries Close, West Drayton, in 2003, said his private property rights should take precedence and the trespassers should be ordered to leave forthwith.
The campaigners were, in July last year, given six weeks to leave by Judge Karen Walden-Smith but are now challenging that decision before three of the country’s most senior judges.
The judge had acknowledged the “social value” of the garden lovingly grown by the squatters and controversially upheld their arguments that Article 8 of the ECHR – which enshrines the right to respect for privacy and family life – could be applied to a private landowner.
However, in granting Mr Malik a possession order, she said that it would be wrong to keep him out of land for which he had paid a six-figure sum and that she had no power to delay the group’s eviction on grounds of “exceptional hardship”.
To take into account the “socially useful” activities of the squatters on the site would “run entirely contrary to the principle of private ownership of land”, she said.
Challenging that ruling today, Jan Luba QC, for the campaigners, said that their Article 8 rights should have held sway and, at the very least, the judge should have given them substantially longer than six weeks to quit their homes.
The judges were told that, prior to the squatters moving onto the land in March last year, it had been the scene of fly-tipping and had been used by the previous tenant as a dumping ground for used cars.
The market garden now flourishing on the site had “significantly greater social advantages” than any previous or any likely future use of the land, argued the barrister.
However, Naomi Winston, for Mr Malik, pointed out that he has his own human right to freely enjoy his private property.
Judge Walden-Smith was right to rule that the eviction of trespassers was “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.
Subjective views on the social value of the group’s activities were of limited, if any, relevance, argued the barrister, who added that the court had no power to delay eviction of trespassers on hardship grounds.
Miss Winston said that the group had been granted “a further period of grace” whilst their appeal is heard and the time had now come to hand back to Mr Malik his private property.
Given the widespread importance of the issues raised by the case, Lords Justice Ward, Lloyd and Toulson are expected to reserve their decision until a later date.
Earlier news about Grow Heathrow:
18.6.2012 The “Grow Heathrow” community, who have turned an area in Sipson that was once a “derelict mess”, into a thriving market garden, are facing eviction. However, the young people living there are popular with the local community, who want them to stay. When they arrived several years ago, they cleared as much as 30 tonnes of rubbish off the site, renovated greenhouses and now grow organic lettuces, courgettes,squashes etc. The site happens to be where a 3rd runway was to be built – a location in many of their neighbours’ interests to protect. The owner of the land wants his land back, and a hearing at Central London County Court began on Monday but the judge has decided to take more time, so they are not due back in court for several weeks. The court is expected to weigh up the human rights and hard work of those who have moved in against the simple fact the land is not theirs.
Transition Heathrow’s “Grow Heathrow” project were due to be in court on 17th November, for a hearing about having them evicted from the site they are occupying at Sipson. The judge took into account the human rights arguments and adjourned the case to the higher authority of Central London County Court where a two day hearing will take place in a few months time. The owner of the site wants the land back, though it had been neglected for years, and Grow Heathrow has turned it into a thriving community venture.
17.11.2011 (Transition Heathrow)