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Monday, 20 July 2015

The Sweets Way Wall.

On Saturday I found myself at the ghost town that is the Sweets Way estate in North London's Barnet. Driving through streets of empty houses we reached the first sign of life; a shed painted with the words 'We will not lose our shed'.

On reaching a communal patio area, I met the dedicated team living in the reclaimed area, 'Sweetstopia'. The houses, only 45 years old, were apparently sold for £400 each to Annington Homes who plan to build 300 luxury flats, but make no provision for social housing. Tenants have been evicted and many have been re-housed in sub-standard buildings, often out of the borough. Social-cleansing breaks up communities and has disrupted and brought chaos to the lives of 153 families at the estate.

In contrast to the barren boarded-up houses surrounding Sweetstopia, activity is everywhere. Art and music springs up quickly and the energy is infectious. There are a variety of flowers and vegetables growing and a greenhouse has been erected in the centre - quite a commitment considering they may be evicted at any moment. The majority of the buildings were in a habitable condition - before contracted workers smashed many of them up inside. It is difficult for repairs to become a priority when the future of the estate is so uncertain. In order to gain a sense of security - and as a recognised symbol of resistance - Sweetstopia residents have erected their very own wall. The wall flourished as paint and music appeared, joyful and determined.

The activists have drawn attention to the immoral evictions, but the future of the estate is still very uncertain and bailiffs are expected imminently. Resistance can make all the difference and it is inspiring to feel the gradual raising of vibrations, as a hum of discord becomes a progressive and catchy beat.

Watch a clip of Sweetstopia in action ...