UK

Love Activists Evicted From Squat After Plans To Turn Former RBS Offices Into Food Bank

24/12/2014 12:25 GMT | Updated 29/12/2014 21:59 GMT
Carl Court via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 24: Squatters from a group calling themselves 'Love Activists' sit on the balcony of a previously unoccupied building on December 24, 2014 in London, England. Previously leased by the Royal Bank of Scotland group, the squatters plan to open the building on Christmas Day and provide a free lunch for homeless people in a protest against the housing crisis. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

A group calling themselves the Love Activists are currently being evicted after taking over a former RBS office in London, which they planned to turn into a food bank.

The campaigners occupied the grade-II listed building on the corner of Charing Cross Road and St Martin’s Lane, which has been empty for 18 months, in protest to the housing crisis.

Members of the movement claim the the private bailiffs are attempting to "illegally" evict them from the building, which the activists call "Love HQ".

An activist named Phoenix told The Huffington Post: "They tried to evict us this morning, there's two people on the balcony threatening to throw themselves off. They're pretty upset about the eviction."

"They had a secret hearing Tuesday then came to evict us with about 20 bailiffs."

"All we're really asking for is a warm place to sleep and to cook Christmas dinner for about 100 homeless people."

One of the squatters told The Evening Standard: "We got in on Saturday and we don’t know how long we will stay. We just want to help the community."

A spokesperson for the Love Activists said: "This is a public repossession. Despite the 1.5 million empty buildings there are 110,000 homeless people in the UK this winter, and squatting is a direct solution to this housing crisis."

If they manage to stay, the group plans to use the space for talks, events, and exhibitions including teaching people "how to squat", as well as feeding and clothing the homeless.

Squatting in non-residential properties is legal if no crime (such as breaking and entering) is committed. Squatters can only be evicted by court order, but owners may reclaim the building if no one is on the premises.

One regular squatter at the Trafalgar Square site said: "We don’t usually find proper washing facilities in the commercial premises we occupy.

"The fact that there is a bathroom in the penthouse suite, so we can actually have a bath while we’re here, is a real bonus."

Reports say the group consists of 40 members, who hope to turn the space into a food bank and feed the homeless on Christmas Day.

According to Land Registry records, the most recent owner of the plot is a holding company called Greencap Ltd.

'Love Activists' Take Over A Central London Building For Christmas