The police action followed a two year legal battle and talks with the squatters from Lambeth Council.

“We are taking action this week because it is unfair on the thousands of residents in need of housing in Lambeth that a small minority have been unlawfully squatting in six mansion blocks on Rushcroft Road, Brixton, and not paying any rent or council tax,” said a statement from Lambeth Council.

“Following the eviction of the unauthorised occupants, three of the six blocks in Rushcroft Road will be sold to bring the remaining three blocks back into use as 22 new homes for social rent. The other three blocks will be sold to generate a significant capital receipt.”

“We have been in regular dialogue with the occupants of the six blocks over the last two years, offering support and advice on how to find alternative accommodation.

“We will continue to take this approach in order to help everyone who is affected.”

One of the squatters, Peter Piotrkowski, told The Evening Standard “I’m going to be homeless now. I’m on benefits, £72 a week. I can’t find any place for that money and I need to keep some money for food.”

Bins were set alight in the street last night in protest at the mass eviction. More than a dozen bailiffs wearing hard hats and boiler suits joined police in the raid in which erupted into a violent confrontation – see video from the clash below.

According to the BBC, some local residents joined with the squatters to protest against the evictions. One person was arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage.

“It’s completely in line with the kind of gentrification community purge that Lambeth tend to have,” said Lambeth United Housing Co-operative’s Julian Hall.

One commenter on the Urban 75 forum said “[Lambeth Council] left Rushcroft Road to rot for over 30 years, but people still made their homes there and fixed the places up. Now the price is right, they want the properties back.”

See photos of the raid on Brixton Blog and from photographer Jake Lewis, plus more about the raid on Brixton Buzz