Campaign for Cat Hill – report as occupiers issued eviction notice


Report and pictures by Marcos Schneider

[Marcos & Phil visited the Cat Hill protest camp on 19 & 20 August. What follows is Marcos’ impressions of the moment the eviction notice was issued to the occupiers and the protest that followed]


CH 1First impressions of the development (19 August)

Approaching the roundabout at Cat Hill, two large red wooden gates indicate the entrance to a massive development, a site which currently resembles nothing but piles of rubble where Middlesex University once stood.

A single banner is tied between two trees; it reads, ‘Cat Hill Blockade’. The atmosphere is slightly tense, and I am watched through the bars of the gate with suspicion as I capture the scene with my camera. A small door is slammed shut. A security guard walks his German Shepherd across my path, glancing at me out the side of his head.


Cat Hill protest camp 

CH 3I had not yet met the occupiers although I had familiarised myself with their situation. A protest camp had sprung up in the woods on land where London & Quadrant (L&Q), the developers in possession of Cat Hill, intend on expanding turning it into homes and a road. That is, not before they reduce the site to rubble as well. The occupiers are a mixture of medium to long term homeless and green activists who oppose the destruction of the local environment that L&Q’s activities is causing.

We soon navigate our way through one of, as it turns out, several, discreet passageways through the woods that lead to the protest site. It rests along the perimeter of the building site, its foliage marking a stark contrast with the barren hills across the fence which separates the two.

There is no time for formalities as it appears that a dramatic scene is unfolding. Two of the occupiers are standing up on a wooden palette, peering over the top of the fence where they appear to be having a confrontation with a couple of L&Q representatives in hard hats. It turns out they are here to serve an eviction notice to the occupiers, giving them seven days to leave voluntarily.

Word gets round, and the five or so occupiers present immediately begin discussing the situation. They argue back and forth on what course of action to take. Best wait until the others are informed. Somebody had best called Kim. It was clear that whoever she was, she commanded a great deal of respect from the people here.


Sustained campaign – Kim Coleman 

CH 2Kim, we would learn, is a local resident and community organiser who has been involved in the campaign to save Cat Hill from its inception, nearly four years ago. Kim has given a tremendous amount of time and resources to the campaign, at large financial cost to herself, and is currently spearheading the legal challenge the campaigners are bring to L&Q and to appeal the eviction order.

A leaflet in the camp spells out what this entails:

This land was never the council’s to sell; as its custodians, their role should have been that of guardian and caretaker; instead of upholding the needs of the people as stipulated by the original covenant, the land was turned over to private interests whose activities are in breach of several environmental laws, including threatening endangered species, violating Tree Protection Orders and pollution regulations.

We were invited to return the following day, as the recent development called for immediate escalation. On that all were agreed. We helped produce 600 leaflets ready to be distributed.


Time for a blockade (20 August)

4By next morning word had spread. We arrived at the camp to find the occupiers arguing over what tactics to use, yo-yoing from defiance to defeatism. Tensions were high and the news was clearly taking its toll.  The mood would change significantly however once the local residents made an appearance.  It was quickly agreed upon that we should stage a demonstration in front of the site gates, preventing trucks from entering with supplies. Making our way down, we numbered fourteen in total, including five local residents, Phil and myself.

The demonstration proved itself to be a lively affair. It did not take long before the first truck arrived, and rather aggressively attempted to force its way right through us. Realising he had been overzealous, the driver retreated round the corner, where a queue of trucks soon began to form. One or two drivers took particular exception to our presence, hurling abuse at us and even provoking a confrontation. Morale remained high however, and passing cars sounded their horns in support. A young couple from across the street offered us all drinks. The queue is now more than five trucks deep, and one finally loses his patience and leaves, another two soon follow.

When the police arrive, it does not take long for them to disperse us in order to allow the trucks to deliver their goods. A little while longer and it is agreed to break up the demo to continue distributing leaflets, and reconvene in three hours’ time for a second action. It is not yet resolved what the campaigners wish to achieve with their current wave of demonstrations, some seeing a terrific sense of urgency in how much the project can be disrupted now that the clock is ticking for their potential eviction date. Others acknowledge that this represents only the next chapter in a series of events that has encompassed four years now.

Later on in the evening, I call Janice, one of the local residents involved, to ask how she felt the day went.  We agree that much will be determined by how many more supporters turn out. The next few days will, I imagine, be a time not just for action, though the situation demands it, but much discussion and reflection.



We’ve been asked to make a call out to all those who have time to visit the camp. This campaign is far from over! On this Saturday the camp will hold an evening (from 7 pm) of music and fun.

We understand the history of the campaign is not outlined here, that was not the intention. We intend to have a chat with Kim, Occupy Barnet and the others for a full interview for the North London Star really soon.



2 Responses to Campaign for Cat Hill – report as occupiers issued eviction notice

  1. This is disgraceful and just typical of government/local government etc. I was advised that there was a covenant which established the truth and would prove that developers cannot come in destroying woodland and developing this sight as it wasn’t anybodies to sell in the first place. This is disgusting! Ancient woodland are the lungs of our world, when are humans going to stop destroying one of our most important resources for their greed???? I am furious to think that Natural England are not stopping this considering Cat Hill is home to bats and protected species such as the Great Crested Newt. I applaud the people of the Cat Hill Protest for making a stand in what they believe in and fighting for those without a voice!

  2. Message from one of the occupiers, from Facebook:

    “Bailiffs still haven’t shown their sorry faces and numbers continue to swell at Cat Hill, which has expanded to three camps. We blockaded this morning and will continue to do so whatever happens. Big thanks to all the great people who came down and big thanks for all those who are staying on.”

    I’m going to try to get there for Wednesday!