Seventeen squatters are occupying the Cross Keys, a 300-year-old pub on Lawrence Street, Chelsea. In its long history, the pub is said to have attracted such notables as Christopher Wren, Dylan Thomas and Bob Marley. It recently closed down after the owner unsuccessfully applied to planning authorities to change it into a residential property.
The squatters insist they’re only there with good intentions, looking after the building until a suitable buyer can be found. They reckon to have fixed the toilets, unblocked the drains and got rid of mice, while trying to maintain a friendly dialogue with neighbours. Not everyone locally agrees; not least the owner who has started court proceedings. Squatting of residential properties became a crime in September, but occupying commercial properties remains a civil offence. The BBC has a lengthy article looking at the various sides to this story.