Developers aim to create a new business and cultural district, served by an extension to the Northern line, and glass tower blocks are under construction all around. Projects include the huge Nine Elms development between Vauxhall and Battersea, which will host the relocated £620 million American embassy. But there are complaints that landlords want multinational tenants to move in at the expense of smaller independents. It is feared that bars, clubs and cafes popular with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will be priced out. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, which featured in movie Pride, was bought by Austrian developer Immovate last year, and campaigners are trying to protect it from demolition. A fight to give it a heritage listing is being backed by stars including Sir Ian McKellen and Paul O’Grady, who performed there as Lily Savage. Princess Diana allegedly once visited the venue disguised as a man, accompanied by Queen’s Freddie Mercury. Bar Code, a nightclub under railway arches near Vauxhall station, was sold in June after its rent was more than doubled from £60,000 to £150,000.
Bonnington Square is located in Vauxhall in South London and it was constructed in the 1870s as housing for railway workers. It was scheduled for demolition in the 1980s but this was prevented by the legal actions of a Turkish shopkeeper. Squatters shortly moved into all of the buildings, formed a housing cooperative and negotiated with ILEA for the right to lease out the housing.After this, the squatters created a volunteer-run vegetarian café and community garden, creating the Bonnington Square Garden Association. This charming community garden is fully run by the residents and it includes exotic, tropical and Mediterranean plants as well as species native to Britain.
Anna Odrich began squatting in a square of derelict, condemned houses in Vauxhall, south London, in 1982. She later bought the house.
“Mine was the last house occupied on Bonnington Square so it was in the worst condition. It had huge holes in the roof, hardly a floorboard left – everybody else had used them to make fires or bookshelves – no gas, no electricity, no water.
“I started work. I would find things in skips: doors, floorboards, window frames, a bath. It took years to have amenities you could regard as functional. My first water was a garden hose from the ground floor. I learned a lot. When you’re not a professional things don’t always work out. I built about seven kitchens – they got better all the time and moved around the house.
“It makes me very annoyed when people say squatters have it easy. When we bought the house five years later the owners, the Inner London Education Authority, got a lot more money as all our work had made it more valuable.
“It’s very dangerous just to point fingers. There’s all kinds of squatters. There are freeloaders – I know all about this; at one point I had someone living on my bathroom floor for two months – but there’s freeloaders everywhere. There’s no reason to destroy it all for the sake of a few people.”
Two bedroom split level furnished apartment within this recent conversion of a totally refurbished period three storey property in Bonnington Square (This little known, yet very sought after residential period square has an almost Bohemian atmosphere with a strong community culture, which maintains its own beautiful communal gardens and potted street planters), only a very short distance from Vauxhall tube(Victoria Line) /BR, the open spaces of Vauxhall and Spring Park and within easy reach of Oval tube (Northern Line). The apartment boasts two double bedrooms, huge storage room/study, spacious reception, separate fitted kitchen, two bathrooms, small rear patio garden and access to the mature landscaped communal gardens serving Bonnington Square. Ideal for professionals.