THE CONTINUING STORY OF
PASSING CLOUDS FOREVER
& LANDHOLD DEVELOPMENTS
AFTER 10 YEARS OF CREATING LOVE & LIGHT…
* Our building was sold to Landhold Developments in a secret deal in September 2015, without our knowledge and with no option to buy offered to us. We were informed two months later in November 2015.
* Initially Landhold told us they didn't plan to make any changes and that we would be allowed to stay.
* In February 2016, following repeated requests from Passing Clouds to renew our lease which expired in May 2016, Landhold informed us that they wanted to develop the building into offices and we therefore had to leave.
* Passing Clouds outlined the huge financial liabilities this would incur as we had programmed a huge summer line-up to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.
* After we pointed out that 3 months was not enough time to find a new commercial premises with licensing options, Landhold agreed to allow us to stay for a further 3 months after our lease end, taking us up to 11th August. We intended to use this time to find an alternative venue as well as celebrating our 10 years in this one.
* In April 2016, Landhold informed us that they had changed their minds about the 3 month extension and would not allow us to stay beyond May unless we signed a letter stating we were leaving voluntarily due to alleged "dilapidation" of the building. Nothing could be further than the truth - Passing Clouds has spent over £200,000 on upgrading and maintaining the building and always made our desire to stay known to both Landhold and the previous owner.
* Having spent thousands of pounds on bringing in artists such as Lee Scratch Perry and Sun Ra Arkestra, as well as press and media costs for the 10 year anniversary campaign, Passing Clouds refused to sign the letter and stated that the 3 month extension they had agreed in writing still stands.
* At 6:30am on 16th June, County Enforcement Group under the instruction of Landhold Developments, illegally broke into and entered Passing Clouds music venue and community arts centre, claiming unlawful possession of the premises. At 4:30pm, over 200 people from the Passing Clouds community performed a common law eviction of the trespassers and successfully reclaimed lawful repossession of their venue. Video footage of the community reclaiming the building has reached over 100k on Facebook.
* Following media hype surrounding the reoccupation, Garry Simpson finally agreed to meet Passing Clouds' director Eleanor Wilson on 22nd July - a meeting that she had been requesting for over 6 months.
* Garry Simpson agreed to enter into negotiations to allow Passing Clouds to stay in the building. He opened up with an of offer of a 15 year lease at 3-times the amount of rent our not-for-profit community venture has been paying.
* Passing Clouds confirmed we would consider the offer and would respond following legal consultation and business forecasting.
* On Tuesday 2nd August Passing Clouds were deeply disappointed to receive a notice of eviction proceedings beginning at court on Friday 5th August.
* At this initial hearing we requested and were granted an adjournment on the basis that we had not been given adequate time to form a proper legal defence.
* The district Judge Manners who was assigned to the case had previously ruled against us on a lease issue with Passing Clouds 5 years previously.
* One week later on Friday 12th August we were back in court, and again requested both an adjournment and for Judge Manners to recuse herself (step down) on the basis that she had previously been party to a case with us. Our defence team declared that she was biased to which she replied, "Yes, I am biased". She refused to step down and ordered and granted a High Court eviction order.
* At 4am on Tuesday 16th August, a team of over 40 bailiffs stormed the building and ejected our occupants. The building is now boarded up with metal hoardings over the windows and doors, while County Enforcement Group remain in occupation.
* Contrary to some media reports, the property inside the building has not been seized by bailiffs as it remains the property of Passing Clouds.
* Landhold Developments have claimed that they were forced to evict us after we "refused" to find another venue. This is categorically untrue. We have been searching for another building for several years since our popularity has overtaken our capacity. We have struggled to find somewhere of a suitable size, the correct usage permissions, in a relatively open area away from residents and at a rate affordable for a community organisation.
* Passing Clouds is now in the process of launching an appeal against the ruling of an openly biased judge, whose decision has resulted in the loss of over 50 jobs, severely effected the livelihoods of hundreds more in the form of promoters, musicians, artists, DJs and local businesses, and has generally had a devastating impact on the local community. Furthermore we will be seeking compensation from Landhold Developments who we believe have caused irreparable damage to our business, brand, and our community.
* We are also organising the March of London's Dead Culture on Saturday 17th September, bringing together other venues and communities to protest the aggressive property development that is destroying our culture and heritage.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If Landhold own the building and don’t want you there, isn’t that fair enough?
No. Passing Clouds spent 10 years creating a unique and beautiful cultural space for the benefit of the community, making Dalston (previously an undesirable area of London) a vibrant and prosperous location. We were given no option to buy the premises that we had spent over £200,000 upgrading and maintaining. Furthermore we were consistently deceived into believing we would be able to negotiate being able to stay. If you look at the timeline of events you will see that Landhold has continually given us false hope and broken countless promises, which we believe was a deliberate attempt to disarm and distract us while they went ahead with eviction proceedings without our knowledge.
Have you thought about getting a new venue?
YES! For the last 6 years we have searched for another building simply because our popularity has overtaken our capacity. We have struggled to find somewhere of a suitable size, the correct usage permissions, in a relatively open area away from residents and at a rate affordable for a community organisation. If you know of such a building, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s the big deal about that building anyway? Why don’t you just let it go?
This issue is bigger than the venue on Richmond Road and even bigger than the Passing Clouds community. This is about the devastating impact that aggressive property development is having on our culture and our communities. It is about refusing to lie back while our beloved arts spaces and cultural heritage are being destroyed by the behemoth of soulless gentrification and corporate greed.
Have you contacted Sadiq Khan?
Yes. The mayor is aware of our situation and we are in regular communication with his team.
Have you registered the building as an Asset of Community Value?
At the time of writing (23/8/16) we are completing our application. Unfortunately the sudden and unexpected court case and subsequent eviction have taken the majority of our small team’s capacity, hence the delay in getting the application in. We are now working on it as a matter of urgency.