Squatters who moved into a large riverside home 13 years ago now own the property – after proving that they had improved it.
The group discovered the abandoned six bedroom house in 2003 while searching for somewhere to create a cultural centre and took up illegal residence there.
But when representatives from South West Water arrived to evict them they were allowed to stay on the basis they were carrying out repairs to the derelict home.
And after a long stay as tenants, the group have bought the impressive property – known as The Cottage – and associated land and buildings on the picturesque Pendennis Headland in Falmouth, Cornwall.
Jef Smith is the only squatter still remaining from the original group – and says, ‘I don’t like the term squatters. We reclaimed it. It was boarded up for seven years.
‘There are so many groups of people who are squeezed out. This is a housing and social resource for the town.
The Spiral Collective Housing Co-operative, created in 2003, was the first co-operative to open in Cornwall in 43 years, and has now secured a loan to get its mortgage and ensure its future at the property.
Jeff added; ‘It is a hell of a relief, The future is really exciting. It will take two years or more to fully restore it. It is certainly a hidden gem.’
‘It is stunningly built and it has got so much character and potential.’