“Grow Heathrow” runway protest community given 14 days to leave site in Sipson
“Grow Heathrow” is a community project that has been living in Sipson since 2010, as a protest against a 3rd Heathrow runway. They have been fighting eviction for many years. Now Grow Heathrow has been given 14 days to leave, by the High Court. They had taken over a derelict site and turned it into a partly self sufficient community, growing a lot of their own food and acting as a community centre. On 29th June Judge Dight granted a possession order to the landlords of the site, Lewdown Holdings. The judge acknowledged the hardship and logistical difficulties which will be caused by the effect of the order – which requires the eviction of an entire settled community, but granted Lewdown the possession order. The judge said the owner had no need to justify his alleged failure to use the land for any purpose, though it had been derelict. Lewdown Holdings have had their planning permission for the site rejected, so nothing is planned on it. Grow Heathrow say they will appeal, and they do not intend to leave. They are being given pro bono legal help from Leigh Day. One of the activists living at Grow Heathrow said: “We are completely committed to continuing support for the local community. Airport expansion will make their homes uninhabitable.” They have a lot of support from local residents, one of whom commented: “They took over a piece of neglected land which they skilfully rejuvenated to provide a vibrant hub for like-minded people.”
Grow Heathrow runway protest community given 14 days to leave site
Court orders 20 residents to leave the community garden set up on derelict site to protest against airport expansion
By Sandra Laville (Guardian)
A community project set up to protest against a third runway at Heathrow has been given 14 days to leave its home by the high court.
Grow Heathrow took over a derelict garden centre in Sipson in 2010 and turned it into a community garden as part of action in protest against the plans for the runway. About 20 people live at the site and from their base they have become an integral part of the community activity against the building of a third runway at the airport.
But on Thursday Judge Dight granted a possession order to the landlords of the site, Lewdown Holdings. The judge acknowledged the hardship and logistical difficulties which will be caused by the effect of the order which requires the eviction of an entire settled community, but granted Lewdown the possession order.
Lawyers for Grow Heathrow argued they had the right to a home, as interpreted under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and were therefore entitled to resist a possession order. Any possession order, they said, would infringe the freedom of expression (under Article 10) and freedom of assembly, protest and association (under Article 11).
The judge found that the defendants could not rely on these rights to override Article 1, that: “Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions.” The judge stated that a “private landowner [is] entitled to put its land to any form of lawful use, including doing nothing with it”.
He said the owner had no need to justify his alleged failure to use the land for any purpose.
Alex Sharpe, one of the protesters, said Grow Heathrow would appeal against the granting of the order. He said: “What we want to do now is sit down with the landowners Lewdown and talk to them like adults. They have had their planning permission for this site rejected and we don’t have any intention of leaving this site. We hope to be able to talk to them sensibly about this.
“We don’t have any intention of leaving the Heathrow villages because we are part of the fight against the third runway, and as long as that is still a threat we will be here.”
The activists are being given pro bono legal help from Leigh Day.
The eviction of the residents could start in 14 days, but activists hope the appeal and conversations with the owners will mean this does not happen.
Ruth Raynor, one of the Grow Heathrow protesters, said after the hearing in London: “We are completely committed to continuing support for the local community. Airport expansion will make their homes uninhabitable.
“As caretakers of this land we’ve cleared 100 tonnes of rubbish, returning the land to an ecological habitat and community garden. We would like to continue a conversation with Lewdown Holdings outlining a community based educational project.”
The shadow chancellor and Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell, said the project had inspired the whole community and improved what was a derelict site. “We need lawful spaces of protest with the values of education and community embedded in them; Grow Heathrow would be a great loss for my constituency in this crucial campaign year against Heathrow airport’s expansion,” he said.
The activists and their hundreds of supporters cleared the site of 30 tonnes of rubbish and built a self-sufficient community when they took over the site in 2010 as part of protests against the third runway.
Jane Taylor, chair of Harmondsworth and Sipson Residents Association, supported the activists.
“Grow Heathrow came to the village to breathe new life into the community following another attempt by Heathrow airport to decimate its neighbouring villages. They took over a piece of neglected land which they skilfully rejuvenated to provide a vibrant hub for like-minded people.”
“Grow Heathrow” still hanging on in Sipson – which would be wiped out by a 3rd northern runway
A 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” 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.”
Court of Appeal decision on Grow Heathrow eviction due
SQUATTERS occupying land once designated for Heathrow’s third runway will find out whether their appeal against eviction is successful next week.
Next Wednesday (July 3), campaigners from environmental action group Transition Heathrow will return to the Court of Appeal and hear whether they are allowed to remain at the Grow Heathrow community garden in Vineries Close, Sipson.The appeal was heard back in January, and the judges have since been mulling over their ruling in what could be a landmark case in land use and eviction cases.
The owner of the contested land, Imran Malik, was given a judgement of possession by Central London County Court in July 2012, nearly two years after first serving the group with an eviction notice, but Grow Heathrow were given dispensation to challenge the ruling.
The group’s legal argument is that eviction would infringe on their right to a home, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
This defence has never been used as the basis of such an appeal, and the ruling could have implications for housing law.
Previously disused wasteland, the group cleared the area and established Grow Heathrow in March 2010. It is now well regarded amongst people in Heathrow Villages, and John McDonnell appeared as a witness during the appeal in support of the young activists.
Grow Heathrow want to buy the land from Mr Malik and set up a Community Land Trust (CLT), but the offers have been rebuffed.
The momentous hearing starts at 9.30am, in court 70.