Joint Statement from Hounslow Council and Watermans on the squatters at Watermans Arts Centre

We are aware that squatters have taken over the Watermans Arts Centre building, which is currently deemed unsafe following a recent fire.

Published: Friday, 14th June 2024

The outside of Watermans

They are refusing entry to staff from the Council and Watermans, who are currently based in the building.   
The Council is actively working with the Watermans team to remove the squatters and regain control of the property. Our immediate priorities are public safety and protecting the integrity of the building.  
The unauthorised occupation of the arts centre building presents a major challenge to Watermans in the delivery of its outdoor and community programme.   
The unauthorised occupation by squatters is also preventing the Council from assessing the damage caused by the fire. Prior to the fire, the Council was planning to hold a meeting with interested parties on how the building could be used to benefit the local community. Several groups had been in touch with proposals. This process cannot progress while the squatters occupy the building.  
The decision to close Watermans Arts Centre in April was made by Hounslow Arts Trust, an independent charity operating under the name Watermans, due to financial pressures due to the Covid pandemic and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.     
We understand and share the disappointment felt by many about this closure. The decision was necessary due to unsustainable operational costs, ahead of the planned move to a new arts and culture centre to be built the site of Brentford police station. 
The Council is working with Watermans about how we can support them to carry on providing their popular community-based activities as they continue to plan for opening the new centre. 
Watermans is continuing to deliver its popular Bell Square and community activities. Last week it celebrated ten years of Bell Square and helped launch Hounslow’s Summer of Culture programme with a performance of Pyrodise by the Hungarian circus company Firebirds, which was watched by over 1,200 spectators.  

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