Squatters take over former 20th Century Fox building in Soho

Squatters are occupying the former London headquarters of film giant 20th Century Fox in the heart of Soho, the Standard can reveal.

A group have made their home in the five storey building and warned they cannot be evicted without a court order.

In a move mirroring the occupying by so called ‘professional squatters’ of Gordon Ramsay’s former York and Albany hotel in Camden and Marco Pierre White’s, Mr White’s in Leicester Square they have targeted empty, non residential buildings worth millions.

Under the law they cannot be budged until the owners obtain a legal order giving the green light to evict.

Twentieth Century House has been empty since around 2021 after Disney bought the company and relocated staff.

Builders had been stripping out fixtures and fittings in recent months but the squatters are now in residence.

Local businesses said they come and go in the early hours to avoid being detected.

 (John Dunne / ES)
(John Dunne / ES)

They have put up a notice on a window warning anyone who tries to move them that they are living there according to their legal rights.

But Lukasz Parzych, who manages the office building next door, said the squatters are proving a headache.

He told the Standard: “There are definitely squatters in there and the council are aware. There were builders taking out fixtures and fittings and we thought someone else may be moving in after 20th Century Fox. We did not think that would be squatters but they are very resourceful and have got into the building. They have been spotted by our cleaners very early in the morning but they try to stay undetected.

“For me it is a headache, a real worry. We have had problems with urinating and taking drugs out front. Film studios use our office space and big stars like Selma Hayek, Gemma Arterton and Salma Hayek have been here so it’s not a good impression. We would like the council to take action. The police did come there but they have said there’s nothing they can do at this stage. I think it’s bad for the image of the area that the building is used in this way and not a positive image for tourists.”

A worker at a business in Soho Square, said: “To be honest if the building is empty and someone needs a home then good luck on them. But the squatters we have seen there are just not that nice. No one wants a bad neighbour regardless of whether they are squatters or not.”

Another said: “Whoever owns that building is sitting on a pile of money it must be worth millions. I’m amazed it’s not been used. Good luck to the squatters if they need somewhere to live in this mega expensive city and the space is free, why not.”

Twentieth Century House had been the UK headquarters of the US studio since it was built in 1936.

However, the majority of staff relocated after Disney bought the business for around £55bn in 2019. The building has been completely empty for well over a year.

At one stage a planning application was made to Westminster Council to demolish it and replace it with a mixed use development with offices and retail. However there was an outcry from film buffs who said it should be preserved.

A revised plan was drawn up retaining the main features of the building but the building has remained empty.