Squatters take over millionaire mansions

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The Independent Online

Squatters are holed up in two £15 million-rated mansions on one of the country's most exclusive roads, it was reported today.

According to The Sun, around 20 "hippies" have set up home in the seven-storey properties in London's Park Lane, famous for its super-rich residents, luxury car dealers and hotels.

The group told the paper they spent their time strumming guitars, creating artworks and taking their dogs for walks in Hyde Park opposite.

One of the squatters, called Martin, said: "The view at Sunset over Hyde Park is just magic - especially from the penthouse. I really love it here."

Another, 21-year-old Meg, added: "It's much better when squatters move into a rich person's home like this, as the owner can obviously afford to have us here."

The squatters claim the properties - thought to be owned by the Duke of Westminster - have stood empty for about two years.

Martin, 27 and from South Africa, told The Sun: "There's quite a large squatters community in London and we always pass on information. We'd noticed these houses had been empty for about two years. We got in through an open basement door."

Squatting is not illegal if entry is not forced and no criminal damage is caused to the premises.

According to the paper, the properties are number 94 and 95 Park Lane. Pictures show they are unfurnished save for some basics.

Just a short stroll away are some of Park Lane's exclusive addresses - including an Aston Martin dealership, the Dorchester Hotel and celebrity haunt and restaurant Nobu.

Ian Brimhurst, a member of The Westminster Homeowners' Association, told The Sun that the squatters were "blighting" the area.

The Duke of Westminster's spokesman declined to comment, the paper added.