Squatters target property near church in St Mark's
SQUATTERS have targeted two empty properties opposite a Cheltenham church.
They moved into numbers 32 and 34 in Church Road, near St Mark's Church, and put signs on the doors stating that they would not be forced out without a fight.
However, the owner of the building, developer New Dawn Homes, cut off the electricity, gas and water in a bid to force the squatters out.
Angela Hughes, New Dawn Homes director, said she believed they had now left the property, which was once a police station but has been vacant for a number of years.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
"We got a call from a resident to say there was activity in the property so we have disconnected all the utilities," she said.
"We have not had any reports of activity there since. As far as we are aware, they have gone. We are in contact with the nearby residents and we will keep a close eye on it to make sure nobody returns."
Cheltenham Borough Council gave New Dawn Homes permission last year to demolish the building and create seven houses on the site, but work has not yet begun.
From April this year, it will be a criminal offence to squat in a residential building, however the Church Road properties are currently commercial premises.
The signs the squatters placed on the doors said: "We live in this property, it is our home and we intend to stay here. If you want to get us out you will have to take out a summons for possession in the county court or in the High Court."
New Dawn Homes could face a long legal wrangle if the squatters are inside the property when they want to demolish the building.
Lloyd Anthony, from Cheltenham's BPE Solicitors LLP, said: "Once squatters have moved in, an application should be made to the court as soon as possible to legally remove the squatters from the premises.
"The cost of proceedings, inconvenience and inevitable damage will unfortunately be incurred by the landowner. When it comes to squatters, prevention is most definitely preferred to cure."