Evicted Belgravia squatters move into another mansion nearby

Squatters are protesting against the amount of unoccupied property in London CREDIT:PA

Squatters who were this morning kicked out of a £15 million mansion in London’s Belgravia have taken over another historic seven-storey property nearby.

Bailiffs went in to the Eaton Square mansion – owned by Russian oligarch Andrey Goncharenko – at 8am to remove the group, who had been there for a week.

Within hours they had simply relocated to a property five minutes’ walk away near Victoria Station.

Between 20 and 30 people are said to be inside the property in Grosvenor Gardens.

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One squatter, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s big – it’s like seven floors. It’s a lot bigger than the other one.

“I sorted out my room already and I can’t find it. It’s massive.”

A blue plaque on the property says it was the home of soldier and archaeologist Lt Gen Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers between 1827 and 1900.

The activist, who said they belonged to the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians, said: “We are just going to go out and look for homeless people really.

“We’ll just walk around – they’ll be in doorways or somewhere. It’s a room to stay in isn’t it? Even if they don’t want to stay permanently.”

He said that they expect to be removed from this property too, but that they would “just find another place”.

The squatters have moved to nearby Grosvenor Gardens

“There’s empty buildings all over the place, you just don’t know about it,” he said.

Architect Spetla Popoba, studied at history of art at Vassar College, in the USA and later at the Glasgow School of Art and at the Architectural Association.

Despite living in the squat she still applies for architecture jobs and says her family think she’s “nuts”.

The 36-year-old Bulgarian said: “People think we are a bunch of degenerates and drug addicts but this is not the case.

“We’re in an amazing 18th-century building and as an architect it’s great, we’ll try and stay here for as long as as possible.

“My family are supportive and my friends say it sounds like a lot of fun and said they would like to try it. But most people do not have the guts for it because they’re scared of the bailiffs and police.

“My family say I’m a nutcase, but they say I’m doing a great job.”

Bob Mackaye, 39, who has been squatting for five years in central London said: “We knew we were coming here and our next plan is to go round and collect all the homeless people and invite them back.

“We’re also going to bring out projectors and start running movie nights again.

“The plan is to build the place up again and hopefully we will get longer than last time.

“We are helping the homeless, if we can take a handful of people off the streets and stop them from dying then that’s great.

A spokesman for Landswood, which manages the property on behalf of a client, said: “We are working to get the squatters out of the property, police were contacted this morning.”

The squatters had occupied the Eaton Square mansion since last Wednesday, but were removed following a court ruling.

They say they are protesting against the number of unoccupied residential properties in London.

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