A spokesperson for the Halifax building society, which conducted the research, says: ‘This is the most encouraging sign yet that the recovery is real. While Mr Haw may be disappointed that men, women and children continue to die needlessly around the world, he can at least take comfort from knowing his camp site has continued to acquire equity during these troubling times.’
It may not all be plain sailing for Mr Haw, as Westminster Council maintain that the land belongs to them. However, Mr Haw and his supporters have been camped on Parliament Square since 2001, and under squatter’s rights may well have a legitimate legal claim to the land if they can hold out till 2013.
‘Mr Haw could argue that before he arrived the site was undeveloped and served no practical purpose,’ explains Philip Loughborough of City law firm Wilters & Co. ‘Now it is a thriving community of protesters, homeless people, anarchists, neo-Marxists and confused Dutch backpackers.’
Mr Haw is technically classified as having no fixed abode, but the Halifax believe this is going to work in his favour. Clive Wintergreen, an analyst with the Halifax says: ‘If Mr Haw were to sell his protest camp tomorrow he could completely bypass proposed changes in Capital Gains Tax, so while he may currently spend much of his day being roughly thrown into the back of a police van, he shouldn’t be thinking it’s all doom and gloom.’
Roland Micklewood of Westminster estate agency Chives, agrees: ‘We are talking about a prime piece of real estate, very close to Parliament, with great access to the shopping hubs of Oxford Street and Regents Street. There are excellent bus and tube links, and although it may be a little too bustling and noisy for those with young families, it would be perfect for junior executives with a passion for nihilism, or for students who could easily convert a single tent into living space for four.’
There are also said to be a number of private investors interested in the site, with both the Subway and Prêt A Manger chains keen to exploit the retail potential of the location. A spokesperson for Subway said, ‘these anarchists come here to protest and none of them have organised anything for lunch.’