Extinction Rebellion occupying former Co-Op, (74-78 Sydenham Road)

Continuing the conversation from Vacant Sydenham shop has been lit for two years (74-78 Sydenham Road)


[Photo shared on SE26.life Facebook comments by David Doughty]

How does everyone feel about this occupation?

  • Unwelcome and illegal
  • Who cares, while the shop is empty?
  • Glad to see it
  • Other (please comment)

0 voters

I can think of worse people to “occupy” the coop. And finally the lights have been turned off. How long has it been!!?

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this is far better than the blocking the road stunts. if it expedites the landlord doing something with it then great

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Surely this breaches lockdown rules? Puts others and the premises in risk of contamination.


They are squatters and should be treated as such.


They’re fluorescent. So my understanding is that by far and away most power (something like a week’s worth, an engineer told me) is used in switching them on, so that it’s (usually) much more eco friendly to leave them on all the time rather than switching them on and off. Of course that is assuming they would need to be switched on at some point in the week for security patrols/cameras or the like.

Also to pick on a building that is earmarked to be reopened as a gym seems a bit of an own goal.

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Totally agree.

New businesses are going to be reluctant to move into a high street that’s being “occupied” by activist groups. And if the following comment is true, the council have behaved disgracefully:


@ChrisBestUK @CllrLiamCurran @MPSSydenham
Is this true? If so, why? What happened to the gym? I can’t believe our Council would be so foolhardy as to encourage breaking of lock down in this way. Please say it isn’t so.

That’s not true. It costs the same to turn them on as it does to run them for 2 seconds.


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Best use of site for years, and the lights are finally off…


Statement from Extinction Rebellion Lewisham (posted on our Facebook comments):


In my first job many years ago, I used to build fluorescent light fittings. And it takes more power to start up a light then it does when it is on! If you observe what happens when the light is first switched on, the two ends of the tube flash on. This is the capacitor in the fitting generating 480 volts from 240 volts, it doubles the voltage! then once the tube is alight then the voltage drops down to 240 volts. Although these days most light fittings have energy saving lamps!

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I wonder how they “gained access” without breaking in? And how they are flushing the loos and washing their hands without using the mains services paid for by the freeholder? It sounds from their statement that they are contemptious of Covid-19 protection guidance. A mention of “social distancing” while encouraging others to break the rules.

Squatters aren’t allowed to cause damage (which switching fluorescents off and on will do), to break in or to steal utilities.

Interesting that in their statement they make no claim to be homeless and it seems pretty clear now that neither the Gym Ltd nor the freeholder gave permission for them to gain access.

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Quite surprising to me that some of the people who voted in favour of the break in also voted in favour of the gym. But this makes it harder for the gym. Some cognitive dissonance here? No judgments from me. Maybe they’ve just changed their minds and no longer support the plans for the gym. I still do.

It would be interesting to know what the immediate neighbours feel (by immediate I mean the closest neighbours on Girton Road).

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Hi Cormac - the road blocking stunts were definately an inconvenience, but you have to admit, they’ve bought the issue of air pollution and climate change to the fore - sometimes you have to be annoying to affect some kind of change!

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Hi- the council aren’t involved and they didn’t give permission. This is a commercial building that’s been taken over to help the community. Squatting in a commercial building isn’t against the law.

Lewisham council have no involvement and haven’t given permission, plus squatting a residential building isn’t against the law. The empty building has been occupied to use as a community space for local residents and as a hub for XR to support the UK’s move towards a carbon neutral future. If the gym wants to start work on their project, they can follow the appropriate routes to get the activists out. As yet, the owners haven’t even noticed that the building’s been occupied so I don’t think the regeneration was imminent.


Most law abiding Sydenham citizens are on lockdown. This isn’t helping the community. This is hindering regeneration and putting lives at risk.

The “appropriate routes” to eviction are all via the Courts and the police. Both of whom have so much to concentrate on during the biggest health crisis this country has seen in my lifetime that it is unbelieveably selfish of this group to put people through this. Nevertheless, they will I am sure eventually deal with a group who clearly think they are invulnerable and somehow immune to this horrible virus and sod anyone they infect.

A “hub” for XR? According to whom? Are you a representative? Are you a squatting in this building?

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I support the UK’s move to a carbon neutral future. I invest in green stocks and paid a premium for a zero-emission car and 100% renewable electricity supply.

What will XR “support” by squatting in this building, forcing the landlord to suffer a lengthy and costly eviction process, not to mention covering the utility bills for these squatters?

I’m skeptical that XR have a history of “supporting” anything. To me it seems they focus more on obstructing, damaging and disrupting other people’s lives and property.

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Sorry you feel like that Chris - not sure what XR have ‘damaged’ but maybe you know something I don’t. I think the idea is to set up community workshops - book swap, clothes swaps, community food initiatives etc - probably more for people less fortunate than
yourself in the lottery of life! great that you’re up there with your green stocks and electric car- just the sort of action we can all be inspired by!

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