Protesters set up camp at old ambulance station and vow to clean up
SQUATTERS have taken over a derelict former prison in a bid to eradicate antisocial behaviour and create a thriving community space.
A group of 15, calling themselves The Greenbank Greenspace, accessed the Longfield House site, also known as the old ambulance station, on Friday morning and have now set up a makeshift camp.
The site has been left derelict for more than a decade since being purchased by German supermarket giants Aldi and has been a popular spot for delinquents and drug users for many years.
The group has said it intends to clean up the site and turn it into an area the whole community can be proud of.
Andy, 25, one of the squatters leading the group, said: "We're here as a community group to tidy the site, get rid of the litter, secure the building better and stop the anti-social behaviour that the area is renowned for.
"We've been taking legal advice on how best to proceed with claiming squatters rights and shall be speaking to Aldi shortly.
"We want official recognition, not for ownership, but as a community space."
Inside the ambulance station in 2009
Officials from the Environment Agency, Plymouth City Council, Devon and Cornwall Police and local firefighters visited the derelict site yesterday to carry out a risk assessment.
A spokesman for the police said: "Advice was given on how to remain safe and to tell the group that no burning is allowed due to the site's commercial nature."
Responsibility for removing the squatters lies with Aldi, the police said.
But the site's latest occupants have said they plan to stay there "indefinitely".
Andy said: "We've put locks and anti-climb paint on the gates, had no complaints from the neighbours, and will soon be sending out flyers to the locals to let them know about the space.
"We see room for a lovely vegetable patch and chickens and the whole community to really muck in together."
The group claim to have carried out all their own risk assessments, purchased public liability insurance and made stable many of the site's precarious areas.
Aldi was unavailable to comment at the time of going to print.