Squatters are creating an eco village by Kew Bridge
SQUATTERS have spoken of their plans to transform a plot of derelict land beside Kew Bridge into an 'eco-village'.
A group of about 40 environmental activists seized the long-abandoned site beside the Waggon and Horses pub in Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, on Saturday.
Campaigners claiming links with a 350-year-old organisation called the Diggers, who fought for free access to land following the English Civil War, plotted the takeover on the internet.
Activists from across the country, who claim the action is needed to highlight the misuse of urban land, a lack of affordable housing and the deterioration of the urban environment, met at Waterloo station on Saturday morning before heading to the site.
Messages posted online had suggested they were targeting Hammersmith, but squatters this week said they were merely intended to throw non-sympathisers off the scent.
When the Chronicle visited the boarded-up site on Tuesday afternoon, the squatters had already created a number of makeshift shelters and were busy levelling the land, on which they hope to grow vegetables and wild flowers.
Ben, who quit his 'dead end' warehouse job to join the 'eco-village', claimed he had been overwhelmed by the response from the local community.
"People have been dropping off all sorts of stuff and quite a few members of the public have offered to help out," said the 26-year-old from Somerset.
"We don't have a vendetta against St George (which owns the land) and we're not here to annoy anyone; we're just making a statement about sustainability and how we can all work together.
"I guess my views were radicalised by the police actions at the G20 demonstrations and when I read about this online I thought 'this is what I have to do'. This is an active protest – it's our chance to draw a line in the sand when it comes to the environment."
The squatters plan to hold an open day next Saturday (June 20), when visitors will be able to choose a name for the site and say how they want it to be used.
The one acre riverside site has been empty for about 20 years but the developer St George (which bought the land in 2003) has applied to build 164 flats, along with shops, offices and restaurants, there. The scheme is due to go before the council's planning committee shortly.
St George's previous application for a 10-storey building including 238 flats was rejected in 2005 and dismissed on appeal by the Secretary of State the following year.