For immediate release: FRIDAY 14TH DECEMBER 2018
COEXIST FINALLY LEAVES HAMILTON HOUSE AFTER TEN YEARS OF COMMUNITY IN STOKES CROFT
Coexist will finally be leaving Hamilton House, Stokes Croft on Wednesday 19th December, following an eviction from landlords Connolly & Callaghan (C&C) to develop the building into flats. From Saturday 15th December, the community group will be using a lorry from local event company Arcadia to move out, putting the different elements of the community project into storage.
Facilities which will be lost with the exit of the community group include Coexist Community Kitchen, a non-profit cookery school working with groups such as Bristol Drugs Project and Second Step; the Wellbeing Centre, which offers affordable holistic therapies including initiatives such as Community Conscious offering free treatments to full-time carers; the reception area that stocks the Big Issue for local vendors and functions as an information point for the local area; the art gallery and shop which showcases and sells the work of local independent artists and makers; as well as the event space, theatre and affordable meeting rooms which are offered for free to refugee groups.
This is coupled with the loss of approximately 90% of tenants who were once based in the building – including charities, social enterprises, small businesses and independent artists – most citing the insecurity of the building, along with the unethical dealings of C&C, as their reason for leaving.
Having already evicted 212 tenants in March, C&C have since been attempting to push through Permitted Development on the building – a planning route which would not require them to include any affordable housing and would deny local residents the opportunity to object to the plans.This application was denied and the subsequent appeal was rejected at government level in November. For the next 6 months, C&C plan to “sweat the asset” (Andrew Baker, C&C) of Hamilton House, gradually reducing operations in the building until it is fully developed.
Community member Gem Burgoyne says: “It will be a huge loss for the local area. Community spaces like Hamilton House are disappearing right across our city and these services are so desperately needed. C&C have co-opted our community for their own profit.”
Although Coexist are leaving, the group say they are still committed to the process of trying to bring Hamilton House into community ownership. A petition recently launched by local campaign group ‘Save Hamilton House’ has now gained over 4,500 signatures and will be debated at the next full council meeting on 15th January 2019.
Coexist director Claire Holmes says: “It is an incredibly sad time for us to be leaving Hamilton House and we are extremely proud of all we have achieved in the past ten years.
Coexist may be leaving but this story is not over. This is bigger than us now. It’s about the local area, the community and protecting this important community asset for generations to come. Bristol City Council still have the opportunity to step in and do the right thing. Imagine what could be achieved in another ten years.”
Coexist’s final day in the building is Wednesday 19th December. The community group are looking into new sites for 2019 and committed to continuing on with their community work.
Press Contact: Claire Holmes | firstname.lastname@example.org | 07708 570851
Bristol City Council petition from Save Hamilton House : https://bit.ly/2FVT6Kf
‘Bristol Development will Destroy Cultural and Community Hub’ (by Robert Booth, The Guardian, September 27th 2018)
‘How councils can protect community hubs starting with Bristol’s Hamilton House’ (by Fabian Frenzel and Armin Beverungen, The Conversation, October 25th 2018)
‘Hundreds March to Save Hamilton House’ (By Matty Edwards, The Bristol Cable, September 27th 2018)