Ap­peal Pi­o­neer­ing bike project needs help to find a home

Bristol Post - - NEWS - Heather PICKSTOCK [email protected]­plc.com

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

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