Student activists have taken over a university art gallery in protest at a proposed sell-off of the building that houses London Metropolitan University’s design school.
Protesters moved into the Bank Gallery in Whitechapel High Street to demonstrate against London Met’s plan to merge all departments into one campus.
The gallery is part of the university’s Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, whose impending relocation has sparked widespread criticism from students, staff and senior figures in the arts and design industries.
The occupation began on the evening of 9 December after news emerged of the suspension of Robert Mull as dean of the faculty. Professor Mull, who has refused to support the “One Campus, One Community” programme, will continue to teach as professor of architecture and spatial design.
In a joint statement, London Met and Professor Mull said: “Professor Mull’s duties as dean of faculty have been suspended while discussions take place about his role on the senior management team.”
Protesters say they have been told by London Met that they will not be prevented from occupying the building while discussions about Professor Mull take place.
It is estimated the sale of Cass’ Central House could generate around £50 million, which would be reinvested as part of a £125 million revamp of London Met’s Holloway campus.
A second Cass building in nearby Commercial Road was sold to the Department for Education in June 2015 for £55 million.
In a statement released by Occupy Cass, protesters urged London Met to “take Central House off the market now”.
“Shrinking London Met to one campus will mean course cuts, job losses and a cut to student places,” it said, adding that “there is not nearly enough room to house all the courses taught here at Holloway Road”.
“Our fantastic Central House building, which has only recently been refurbished, is a brilliant learning environment and the perfect place for students of the Cass to study art, architecture and music,” they continued.
“Selling off Central House to luxury property developers or the banking industry would be a disgrace,” the statement added.