Court Orders Chiswick Cinema Squatters To Move Out

Cinema owners will re-start project as it appears premises are now vacated


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The squatters who occupied the Chiswick Cinema are believed to have left the premises having occupied it since March 17th.

The owners of the Cinema were granted a court order for the squatters to vacate the premises last Friday. A hearing in Brentford Court granted the order and a notice had been subsequently posted up on the property.

The cinema owners said they planned to resume work on the project as soon as the squatters move out.

Local people noticed that there were people in high visibility vests and what appeared to be representatives of the cinema outside the premises this morning (Monday, 15th April).

One local resident told that the squatters held a large party on Friday evening around the back of the premises and that a large number of young people had gathered around the fire exits and in the nearby car park.

The group held what they described as an Open Day last Thursday. They said they wanted people to talk to them and see that there were political motivations behind why they occupied the site, some relating to homelessness in London and also climate change. They did not say why they specifically selected the cinema premises or how they knew it was unoccupied. They also put up posters in the windows advertising the Extinction Rebellion rally on 15 April in Parliament Square which calls for global action on climate change.

They were gathered outside the premises last Thursday afternoon playing music but it was unclear whether the event interested many local residents. They told that they planned to put on a dance performance, have face painting for children, and give a talk about climate change. They had also cooked a curry.

The squatters, believed to be about half a dozen of them aged in their twenties, moved into the former Ballet Rambert premises on 17 March, just days before construction work was due to start. Most of them are from overseas and it is thought they have previous experience in this type of action.

The cinema had hoped to make a public announcement that week in March to outline developments for the five-screen venue, with a detailed construction contract negotiated, a price agreed, and a start date planned. The timeline has now had to be revised as contractors have been unable to gain access to the site because of the squatters.

Lyn Goleby, who is heading up the cinema, told recently that despite the negative rumours about the project there was a lot of logistical work going on in the background which was not publicly visible. Some of the stripping out had already been done inside the building to date. Work on matters such as licensing, party wall agreements, parking bay suspensions, scaffolding licenses and other legal matters had been going on and a pre-construction meeting involving 14 people had gone ahead last week.

The occupation by squatters came as a complete surprise to the cinema and local people. There had been 'guardians' living on the site for a number of years while it lay vacant. It is believed they had recently left pending the start of construction and security guards had been employed. The squatters apparently moved in during a very short window of about 90 minutes.

As the land is privately owned Hounslow Council did not have power to intervene in any legal proceedings including eviction this responsibility is with the landowner as a civil matter.

The Council can assist in an advisory capacity if required, and the council's dedicated policing team has reportedly visited the site to ascertain if there is any immediate risk or criminal activity with continued monitoring taking place.

It is unlikely that the cinema will open until at least 2020.

April 15, 2019

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