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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Squatter\'s rights to millions

September 24 2009
A homeless pensioner has become a property millionaire after claiming squatter‘s rights on a prime plot of land in North London Harry Hallowes, 70, has become the proud owner of a ¬¨¬£2m woodland area on the edge of Hampstead Heath after the Land Registry declared him the legal owner. Mr Hallowes, who is originally from Ireland, has lived in a rickety shack - with no running water or electricity - on the 90ft-square site since 1986, the 12 years required by law to claim squatter's rights. If sold with planning permission for housing, the plot could fetch more than ¬¨¬£2m, but Mr Hallowes has no intention of selling: "Do I look like the type that would sell up and go jetting all over the world? I'm quite happy here with all my friends and all the nature. "I'm pretty lazy, if I'm honest. I do a bit of weightlifting and I chop wood for the fire. I don't much care what happens to the land after I'm gone as long as they keep the wildlife - I'm all for wildlife. "If I write a will, I will leave the land to the royal family. They are the last bastion of refinement and sophistication, so they'd know what to do with it. But there are a lot of greedy people behind the scenes who would love to get their hands on this." But Mr Hallowes revealed he would make some changes to his small wooden shack: "Water is a problem because I have to use my friends' taps in Highgate." The squat is in the grounds of the Athlone House nursing home, which Kensington and Chelsea Hospital NHS Trust sold to the property developers Dwyer International. To gain planning permission for a block of 22 flats, worth ¬¨¬£1million each, Dwyer agreed to donate a strip of woodland that included Mr Hallowes' squat to the Corporation of London. Dwyer began proceedings to evict Mr Hallowes in March 2005, but dropped the case after his solicitors showed that he had lived there for more than 12 years.