Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Fifty squatters leave 3m mansion

Squatters in Bristol mansion
The owner is planning to create eight flats worth 500,000 each

About 50 squatters who moved into a multi-million pound mansion in Bristol have now left the building.

They took over the former maternity hospital in Clifton last weekend after climbing through an open window.

The Grade II listed building was bought in 2008 for 3m by property developer Jason Birakos, who sought a court order to move the group.

The squatters said a convention about the plight of homelessness in the UK was held in the house at the weekend.

Jake Eisenstein, 27, who described himself as a "professional squatter" said about 100 people attended the meeting.

"We took over this building to hold an international meeting of squatters," he said.

"Basically, as the global economy grinds to a halt, thousand of people are facing homelessness while huge areas of the city have houses which remain empty."

Mr Birakos is planning to convert the building into eight flats worth 500,000 each.

He said on Saturday that he felt "extremely annoyed and frustrated" that legislation prevented him from protecting his own property.

Squatting is legal if entry to an empty property has not been by force and no criminal damage has been committed.

Miriam Green, one of the squatters, said: "It is his house, yes, but it's his house for development and the real issue here is that many of us, myself included, will not be able to afford to get onto the property ladder.

"Many people are facing evictions, not only from squats, but from rented property and repossessions because of the turbulent economic times."

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