“Britain’s luckiest squatter” is a man who lives alone in a crumbling magnificent hotel that was once among the best in the nation.
When Tom, 30, pushed on a key card door at the Grosvenor Hotel in Bristol one day, it opened.
The 150-year-old hotel has been vacant for approximately 20 years, and the rooms are filled with rotting furniture and the walls are covered with graffiti.
Since then, Tom has moved into the enormous structure, which was constructed in 1875 but has since deteriorated severely.
He uses one of the numerous chambers, all of which he has started organising and making livable, every night by ascending the big staircase.
He has beautiful views of Bristol, but he also has to avoid loose flooring and watch out for unexpected gaps.
Tom has cleared some of the clutter off the floor, set up a sofa, a table, and a few chairs in the living room, and is even painting parts of the walls.
He said: “You can tell this place used to be the real crème de la crème.
”Some of the wood, the dark mahogany wood, the wallpaper, the ornateness around the high ceilings, the detailed work.
”There is so much heritage here. The people who have come through this place are amazing.
“This is a wonderful building, there’s loads to it that I really enjoy. And to have a safe space inside.”
”maybe this hotel could be an answer to some short-term problems”.
He struggled to receive any official help after leaving rehab and has been living in Bristol for six weeks. He was raised in Hertfordshire.
Tom added: “I had found a key card down an alleyway and it just happened that when I used it on the swipe, the door opened. But the door was already open.
”I thought it was to do with the key card but it really wasn’t. I’m gradually, slowly tidying up each room one at a time.”
Tom might be the last person to ever live in the Grosvenor Hotel because the structure is embroiled in a planning dispute.
This week marked the conclusion of the most recent chapter in the protracted drama of the “eyesore” close to Temple Meads rail station.
According to a report updating Bristol City Council, the former hotel will be purchased via a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) so that the property on which it is situated can be developed.
Plans for a Joint Development & Land Agreement (JDLA) for the development of the Temple Square site (including another former hotel, the George & Railway), the purchase of Station Approach, as well as the proposed acquisition of land at Temple Square including the former Grosvenor Hotel, are included in a “decision pathway” submitted to cabinet.
The George and Railway project and wider regeneration made possible by a joint development and land agreement are both factors that will contribute to long-term economic growth, and the proposed CPO of the Grosvenor is part of a plan that will cost between £16.67m and £19.67m and is expected to bring “significant city benefits.”
The future of the area, which was formerly divided by a well-known flyover, and the structures on it will be decided by Bristol’s cabinet.
Bristol City Council senior development surveyor, Jan Reichel, said in her report: “The development will have the potential to achieve high sustainability outcomes, based on design proposals and the excellent accessibility of the developments at the heart of the Temple Quarter and near to Temple Meads Station.”
Tom though says the Grosvenor Hotel is not just a name on a report or a building to be acquired by a variety of acronym – it is his home.
He said: ”I often think about the transition between the people on the outside of the building going about their day to day, trying to race for something.