“Grow Heathrow” squatters in Sipson pledge ‘peaceful’ resistance to bailiffs, due to evict them

The remarkable “Grow Heathrow”squatter community, occupying land near Heathrow in protest at the airport’s expansion, are expected to be evicted by bailiffs today – or soon.   They say they will “peacefully” resist, but a range of non-violent means, including digging tunnels and locking themselves onto items. Grow Heathrow, which includes some 15 families, moved onto a derelict site near Sipson in 2010. The privately owned land had been a wasteland, and an area for anti-social activities. Grow Heathrow cleared rubbish from the site, and created a garden, as well as being as self sufficient in food as possible. They also ran creative and artistic workshops, and a positive and productive community. However, the land owner wants the land back, perhaps for sale to Heathrow airport (their 3rd runway plans would make most of Sipson impossible to live in).  Many local people in Sipson have been delighted to have Grow Heathrow as neighbours, rather than a derelict site. The local MP, John McDonnell said he “wholeheartedly” supported the activists. “These are people who not only helped us fight off the third runway, they’ve actually occupied a site which would have been the sixth terminal for the expanded Heathrow Airport.”



Grow Heathrow squatters pledge ‘peaceful’ resistance to bailiffs

Grow Heathrow eviction campaignMembers of Grow Heathrow have been on the site since 2010

Squatters occupying land near Heathrow in protest at the airport’s expansion say they will “peacefully” resist bailiffs.

About 15 families moved onto a derelict site near Sipson in 2010, creating a garden they call Grow Heathrow.

The land is privately owned and after a lengthy legal battle, the High Court ruled in favour of the owner and ordered the protesters to leave.

The protesters were due to be evicted on Friday morning.

Paddy Reynolds, a member of Grow Heathrow, said: “We plan to peacefully meet them with a barricade of music and dancing and singing.

“If they were to get past that and go inside the actual site, they’d find there’s lots of people there prepared to not very easily be moved from the site, in a very peaceful way.”

BBC London 94.9’s reporter Richard Main, who is at the scene, said the owner of the site, Imran Malik, had entered and left the site after taking a letter from local Labour MP John McDonnell.

‘Sympathetic’ treatment

The MP for Hayes and Harlington has been trying to arrange for the protesters either to buy or rent the land.

Eddy Charles, who has been a resident at the site for one year, said: “The owner and the bailiffs have arrived but I can’t imagine they will do anything today now.

“We are not feeling nervous any more. It’s been warming to see such great numbers turn up and try and protect this space. I think everyone is feeling very upbeat and empowered.”

Earlier protesters had locked the gates and barricaded themselves in, before later opening them.

The local authority, Hillingdon Council, is opposed to the airport’s expansion, but its deputy leader David Simmonds said he could not condone any illegal action.

“We’d like to see them treated sympathetically, and we’ve been very grateful for the support that they’ve provided in that local campaign which has helped in the recent past to persuade the government that expansion shouldn’t go ahead,” he said.

Mr McDonnell said he “wholeheartedly” supported them.

“These are people who not only helped us fight off the third runway, they’ve actually occupied a site which would have been the sixth terminal for the expanded Heathrow Airport.

“They’ve helped us not just in that campaign, but they’ve become part of the community and they’ve turned what was a derelict site into a real community asset and they’re at the heart of our community.”




Grow Heathrow squatters ready to ‘resist’ eviction

Grow Heathrow eviction campaignThe Grow Heathrow campaign has received world-wide support since it started in 2010

After transforming a derelict plot of land into a community market garden in a bid to prevent a third runway being built at Heathrow Airport, a group of squatters are set to be evicted.

Having made Vineries Close in Sipson their home since 2010 they are not prepared to give up their self-built homes easily and have offered their supporters workshops and coaching lessons in how to defend the land.

There is fighting talk from the group of squatters who, under the name of Grow Heathrow, have occupied a slice of greenbelt land in west London for the past four years, seducing their supporters with a post on their website, offering up nature’s rewards.

“If Grow Heathrow hasn’t been evicted, we’re going to bottle loads of blackberries. Bring clean empty jars and you will earn respect, win honour and know true righteousness. If we have been evicted, we’ll just go and eat blackberries.”

The 15 full-time activists and their hundreds of supporters have cleared the site of 30 tonnes of rubbish and created a self-sufficient community, all in defiance of a third runway being built at Heathrow.

Grow HeathrowFrom a wasteland full of rubbish, the residents and volunteers have created a luscious garden

Behind the “doors” they care for the land, building homes from trees, selling produce in the local shop and offering workshops on subjects from bike maintenance to foraging, for anyone who wishes to join them.

The group wanted to create a “place of resistance” for Sipson residents who had seen “the heart ripped out of the community” with the buy-up of land and property by the airport in anticipation of a new runway.

But while Sipson properties may have been spared under new plans, which would see a potential runway built further west than originally proposed, the Grow Heathrow protest site still lies in its path.

The land is owned by businessman Imran Malik and although the activists have garnered support from local residents, MPs and even a judge, they have been told that despite the commendable work it is time to hand the land back to its rightful owner.

Last year Mr Malik, represented by Burch Phillips & Co Solicitors, secured a ruling to evict them, a decision that was upheld during a challenge by the activists at the Court of Appeal in July.

The result means the bailiffs are due to arrive later.

The squatters cleared 30 tonnes of rubbish from the site when they moved inVolunteers estimated that 30 tonnes of rubbish was initially cleared from the site

Georgia Woods, 21, who moved to the site when she was 18, said: “It’s very hard not knowing what’s going to happen and for the incredible space to be threatened.”

The squatters moved onto the site in March 2010 but it is not just a point they wanted to make, it was also about trying to save homes and livelihoods.

Ms Woods said: “We don’t get paid but we all have to do things that make the site run, like growing food or running the free community workshops.

“With the solar panels and wind turbine we have more than enough energy for phones, lights and music. We have totally normal electricity but you learn to appreciate the weather so much more.

ForagingForaging is one of the jobs required to be undertaken by residents of the site

“It’s really understanding the power of community and a gift economy.”

Ms Woods’ home has come from the land too.

“Mine’s made out of hazel and it’s just very small and has got a little woodburner which we built,” she said.

“We’re happier and creating a lighter footprint on the world rather than causing harm to someone through our consumerist polluting lifestyle.”

Winter 2010Even in the depths of winter in 2010 the residents remained self-sufficient and living on site

Despite the idyll of living on a currency-free land, Grow Heathrow does recognise harsh reality and has been trying to buy or rent the land from Mr Malik.

The group has so far offered £50,000, which they say is “above market value” and would have been generated through a crowd-funding project.

John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, who has supported the squatters “from the first day” said: “We’ve been trying to get involved in some formal negotiations and asked them to get around the table, we’re quite happy as a community to rent the site.

“We’ve heard nothing back from the solicitors, but the door is always open.”

Whether or not it is right that an MP supports the squatters, Mr McDonnell said it had been a “tremendous success and a brilliant asset”.

Wind turbineA wind turbine and solar panels have been constructed to generate enough electricity for every day life

“It’s a demonstration that a small part of land can be so environmentally sustainable, it’s a shining example of what you can do through voluntary effort and what Grow Heathrow have done is turned it back to what it was, an environmental benefit for the area,” he said.

However, little consideration has been given to what happens after the bailiffs arrive.

Rob Hickley, 32, a gardener, said: “We’re not really thinking that far ahead yet, but with the relationships made over the past five years perhaps people will stay with others in the community.

“People will be made homeless as a result of this.”

Grow Heathrow eviction campaignGrow Heathrow has been running workshops and classes to prepare people for the arrival of the bailiffs

Heathrow Airport said it recognised that as well as “bringing huge advantages to the UK and the local people” a new runway would have “downsides for people living nearby”.

It said: “That is why we have rejected our previous plans for a third-runway and have put forward a new option further to the west of the airport, which strikes a better balance between the need for growth and local communities like Sipson.”

That is of little consolation to the squatters, who will be evicted regardless of where a runway could eventually be built.

Ms Woods said: “It’s been four and a half years, we had no idea it would last that long. We thought it was going to be squatted for potentially months, so it has been a success.

“Everyone’s pretty apprehensive and it’s pretty scary, but we’re not doing anything wrong, we’re doing amazing things.”

Efforts have been made to contact Mr Malik but, having recently parted company with his solicitors, he has not been located.



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Transition Heathrow eviction day starts with a song round the piano

Local people and supporters of the Grow Heathrow campaigners have blocked the entrance to the squatted old nurseries and are awaiting the arrival of baliffs.

Local people and supporters of the Grow Heathrow campaigners have blocked the entrance to the squatted old nurseries and are awaiting the arrival of baliffs.

A piano sits the other side of the colourfully decorated fence and those inside the community are singing: “We don’t want your runway”.

Also: “Throw your vegetables in the air”, and even: “You are my sunshine.”

 In front of the gates of the former nursery in Vineries Close, Sipson, there is a smoothie stand and people making drinks with fruit and vegetables grown on in the greenhouses.

There is also a seed stand and people are quietly planting them in the ground.

The aim of the peaceful protest is to show exactly what grow Heathrow is all about, says Eddie, a resident.

TV and radio crews are milling around.

People expect bailiffs to arrive with police support. They said they would be there from 8am.



What is Grow Heathrow?

As residents prepare to resist eviction today, one squatter explained what brought him there

Oliva Howard, 15, a Sipson resident. She D-locked herself to the Grow Heathrow entrance. ‘You can’t evict an idea’, reads her sign.


There are around 15 families who live permanently in self-made homes at the community garden site in Sipson and at least 100 others who regularly work at the site.

Eddie has been a resident for a year.

He would not reveal his surname or age, but was happy to explain how he became part of the Grow Heathrow family.

He joined after hearing about it through word of mouth.

Squatters make tea and coffee on a stove in front of a ‘LOVE’ sign

“I’m now friends with them, I love the people who love here, this is my livelihood, it gives me purpose,” he said.

“A lot of people have found they take great fulfillment out of skills we promote here; growing food, bike mechanics, communal living, learning to live with other people – all those different elements.

“The whole value system of this place is our intrinsic goal of community cooperation as opposed to intrinsic goals of individualism and financial gain.”


A squatter makes smoothies using a blender powered by a bicycle


The third runway campaigners and the Grow Heathrow supporters are not isolated to one political party.

“There’s a huge political spectrum – right and left – that is against the third runway,” explained Eddie.

“It’s important that the Government and authorities don’t paint us with a brush of radical squatters or other negative stereotypes.


The Hillingdon branch of Friends of the Earth support Grow Heathrow


“This project has within it other groups which you can’t paint with that brush. For example, Hillingdon Friends of the Earth and campaign groups against the third runway such as HACAN.

“We have common ideas and motivation with them.”


28-year-old Teresa Green with her baby, Raven, Teresa is a part time resident of Grow Heathrow.


John Stewart from HACAN did a talk at the site yesterday (Thursday, August 14), explaining the successes of the campaign group so far.

“The government was unsuccessful in making the third runway happen,” said Eddie.

“John said that’s the first time the aviation industry has had such a crushing blow.

“That was a result of alliance and coalition between direct action and more formal campaign groups, plus using your civil rights to lobby and campaign where you can.

“That is visible in the demonstration here today.

“That coalition is very effective. It is politically very difficult and risky for them [the Government] to go ahead with this proposal.”

The group wants “peaceful resistance” to the eviction threat.

Sipson resident Tracy Howard, 40, and her daughter Olivia Howard, 15, D-locked themselves to the site entrance by their neck as they sang along to songs coming from the other side of the gates.


Made possible by squatting – a sign on the fence of the Grow Heathrow community garden


As of 11.30am there was no sign of police or bailiffs.

Land owner Imran Malik made a brief appearance but refused to engage in conversation with squatters or media.





“Grow Heathrow” still hanging on in Sipson – which would be wiped out by a 3rd northern runway

25.11.2013A small Transition community calling itself Grow Heathrow set up in Sipson three years ago, in order to give heart to the community, so badly damaged by the runway threat and the purchase by Heathrow airport of many properties. The Grow Heathrow site is a hub for local residents and environmental activists to share knowledge and practical skills such as organic gardening, permaculture design, bicycle maintenance and wood and metal work. They endeavour to be self-reliance, producing their own food; by use of solar and wind power, as well as simpler heating technologies, they are completely “off grid”. They collect water from the greenhouse roofs to feed the plants, fruit and vegetables; they use fuel-efficient rocket stoves to heat water; they have compost toilets making “humanure.” The site has been  under threat of eviction for many months. Following an Appeal Court decision on 3rd July 2013 that the landowner could take possession, nothing has happened. They could be evicted at any time. They are still trying to negotiate with the landowner to buy the land, and the legal process seeking to apply to appeal to the Supreme Court is still trundling along. Meanwhile Heathrow’s proposal for a 3rd runway in the Harmondsworth area, west of Sipson, has been short-listed by the Airports Commission.


Grow Heathrow campaigners fight eviction at High Court


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.




“Grow Heathrow” in court facing eviction from their organic gardening site in Sipson – (now delayed a few weeks)


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. We’re not going anywhere !

17.11.2011Transition 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.




New video from Transition Heathrow to mark the group’s first birthday


Check out this video of the Transition Heathrow first birthday – a very positive
aftermath of the battle to defeat the third runway at Heathrow.  http://bit.ly/fpG4ps


There is much more about Transition Heathrow athttp://www.transitionheathrow.com/author/joe/page/2/