Appeal Pioneering bike project needs help to find a home
ACOMMUNITY bike project in Bristol has launched a hunt for a new home – due to its current premises facing an uncertain future.
The Bristol Bike Project, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, is currently based at Hamilton House in Stokes Croft.
But its future there is facing uncertainty after the group running Hamilton House – the building which houses the popular Canteen bar at the heart of Stokes Croft – were told to leave by the building’s owners, developers Conolly & Callaghan (C&C).
Social enterprise Coexist has managed the rooms above the Canteen at Stokes Croft since 2008, renting cheap space to artists and community groups. In that time the abandoned office block has become a cultural hub, helping to transform Stokes Croft into the buzzing destination it is today.
Earlier this year C&C announced it was looking for a new organisation to take on the building’s lease.
Management company Forward Space, which runs a number of coworking spaces in the south west, has now taken over the hub on a temporary basis while the owners find a permanent solution.
Hamilton House has been at the centre of an ongoing row about the future of the whole area, with many locals worried it could be developed into flats, robbing Stokes Croft of much of its creative community.
C&C is currently waiting for a decision from the planning inspectorate on an application to develop part of Hamilton House into residential units.
Under the plans, Block A – which contains The Canteen and DMAC Dance Studio – would remain unchanged. But Blocks B and C, which have traditionally been work spaces for artists, would have plan- ning permission to be turned into homes.
Bristol Bike Project (BBP) – one of the UK’s most successful and comprehensive community bike projects – has been asked to leave the site, although a timescale for the move has not been given.
One of BBP’s founders, James Lucas, said: “Everyone at the project is extremely sad that we will no longer be a part of the Coexist family here at Hamilton House and would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to them for all the amazing support they have given us over the last 10 years.”
Bosses at the project are now urgently seeking a new place in the city to call home. It currently has approximately 1,500 sq ft of indoor space and 900 sq ft external space and is looking for the equivalent for its new home.
Mike Lowe, a director at BBP, said: “We now face a significant challenge as our tenure at Hamilton House comes to an end next year. We are looking for suitable spaces anywhere in Bristol – we are flexible in our requirements, but need somewhere accessible, reasonably central and affordable.”
Since the project was founded in 2008, it has empowered more than 2,000 marginalised people to be independently mobile in Bristol, including asylum seekers and refugees, the homeless and those in recovery.
Its community workshop runs programmes throughout the week.
BBP bosses are now calling for help in their search for a new premises.
“We need all the help we can get,” added Mr Lowe. “Large, affordable spaces in the centre of Bristol are not easy to come by, but it’s crucial we find the right space if we want to keep supporting our local community.
“We are asking people to help us to spread the word far and wide, and if you know of anywhere or anyone that can help, please get in touch.”
Bristol Bike Project celebrated its 10th anniversary this year James Beck