Eco Village Wandsworth, May 1996
Archive photos from an environmental protest
(Photos © urban75, article March 2008)
In May 1996 we visited the site of the Eco Village in Wandsworth, a large, bustling squat on derelict land.
The village was designed to draw attention to the need to make the best use of the derelict sites in Britain's cities.
Here's a leaflet explaining that action that was distributed to local residents near the site:
WE'VE OCCUPIED THE DERELICT LAND ON YORK ROAD
What's going on?
Campaigners from The Land is Ours are occupying the of the old distillery and oil depot, on York Road, SW11. We're building a sustainable village, with gardens and public amenities. We're laying on lots of events - music (acoustic only), circus stunts, talks, painting and story telling. Everyone's welcome - please come and join us.
On May 8th, we'll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the biggest occupation in British history, when demobbed servicemen took over 1000 derelict sites. On May the 12th, we'll be handing the land over to people who want to live there or to use it in the longer term. This, if you're interested, means you.
Why are we doing it?
We want to highlight the desperate need to make good use of the derelict sites in Britain's cities. They're the best places for the affordable housing, the community facilities and the green spaces our city needs so badly. At the moment they're either being wasted or used for the sorts of developments which tear up communities - such as giant superstores and extremely expensive housing.
We want to show what can be done in places like this - and how much better development can be when ordinary people are involved, rather than big business and bureaucrats.
Why have we chosen this place?
Because, with the right sort of development - making use of the waterfront and the excellent location - it could be wonderful. Also, since Elm Farm was shut down by Wandsworth Borough Council, Battersea people have been deprived of one of their best amenities. We want to restore some of the things the area has lost.
Will we be a nuisance?
We're acutely aware that we're within earshot of people's homes, so no amplified music or other major noise will be allowed on site. This is a peaceful, friendly and constructive occupation. If you feel worried by any aspect of what we're doing, please come to the reception tent the main entrance and tell us what you think, and we'll try to sort it out.
What will happen next?
To a large extent this is up to you. We believe that homeless people and the local community should be the driving forces of development. So please come along and join our meetings. Tell us what you think and what you would like the land to be used for. Then we can work out together how we can put your ideas to practice.
Who are we?
The Land is Ours is a campaign, not an organisation. It has no membership and no paid staff. We're campaigning for sensible land use in Britain, and better access both to the land itself and to the decision-making processes that affect it.
By October 2006, the site had been cleared, with SchNEWS reporting that:
"300 police and bailiffs invaded the Pure Genius site in Wandsworth and evicted 150 eco-activists. The 12 acre site had been derelict for six years before the occupation by The Land Is Ours campaign in May.
In five months the campaigners built a sustainable, low impact community offering and alternative to the unsustainability of modern life. Vegetables were planted in raised beds, dwellings constructed and keys to the site were handed over to locals to share the running of the site."
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