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Street artists make their point at cinema that’s always ‘coming soon’

House the homeless plea as buildings are left empty

19 April, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

STREET artists have highlighted the number of empty shops in Kentish Town Road – and the fact that, due to changes in the law regarding squatting, they are not being used to provide shelter for homeless people.

Two new pieces of art, by a collective called Friends United, have appeared on a former carpet and furniture showroom and the old North London Polytechnic building, at the junction of Prince of Wales Road. The former college was bought by property firm Uplift, which had plans for flats on the first floor and roof – with a cinema on the ground floor.

But with no cinema operator agreeing to be involved and the company running out of funds, the building lies empty. A source close to the artists, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “We have done this to highlight the absurdity of the empty shops and the destruction of one of the most beautiful buildings in our neighbourhood.”

The former carpet and furniture showroom was used by homeless workers to offer shelter and kitchen facilities until bailiffs evicted them late last year. It remains empty.

The source added: “There are so many homeless people due to changes in the law that have stopped people squatting in residential buildings. Now, commercial property owners have decided to use either live-in guardians or turn empty properties into half-finished building sites so people who need shelter cannot access them.”

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