Wednesday, December, 5th 2018
BRISTOL CALLS ON COUNCIL TO SAVE VITAL COMMUNITY HUB AS FINAL EVICTION LOOMS
Coexist and the local community are launching a campaign to save the iconic community hub Hamilton House with only days left to go before the social enterprise is evicted from the building.
A new petition released by local group ‘Save Hamilton House’ yesterday has gained over 1,500 signatures in just 24 hours, and is asking Bristol City Council to step in and purchase the building – either through a direct sale from landlords Connolly & Callaghan (C&C) or through a forced Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) – before opening it up to Community Ownership.
This comes after eighteen months of tense negotiations between the non-profit social enterprise and their landlords who plan to develop the building into flats despite massive local opposition.
On the 19th November, C&C gave Coexist 24 hours formal notice to leave the building. Coexist have not accepted the terms of this, stating they believe they are entitled to one months’ notice, to which C&C have responded aggressively, attempting to change the locks and launching a legal battle against the community group.
Coexist have since remained in the building 24 hours a day with a view to continue their work beyond 1st December – the date which signifies the social enterprise’s ten year anniversary of trading within the building. This will enable a planning application for a ‘Certificate of Lawfulness’ to be submitted, to redefine the use as a ‘community building’ in planning law.
C&C have attempted to push through a Permitted Development planning application on the building, but this has been refused, with a subsequent appeal being rejected by Central Government on the 20th November.
With just days left before eviction, Coexist and the local community are now calling upon Bristol City Council to support their vision of a building owned by the local community.
Local artist Kerry Day said: “Community facilities like Hamilton House need to be protected and preserved at all costs and Bristol City Council can pave the way for this. Coexist has provided affordable space and vital community services to the local area for 10 years and supports hundreds of projects working directly for social change in the city. With government cuts to vital services, projects like this are filling an ever-widening gap. We believe community ownership is the way forward – but the council needs to step up and play its part.”
In September, a march of support for the project saw over 1,000 people take to the streets of Bristol to demand community ownership of the building. Bristol City Council verbally offered their support in the weeks that followed; however, no subsequent action has been taken.
Coexist team member Hayley Saint-Clair says: “Right across the country we are seeing the effect of the voluntary and charity sector being pushed into the private. Projects like Coexist are currently exposed to the whim of rogue landlords, rent hikes and property developers – but it doesn’t have to be this way. People are finally standing up to this. We need Bristol City Council to join us and say #YesToCommunity. Hamilton House could be community owned and protected for generations to come – but we need the Council to make it happen. If they don’t support community organisations, the faces of our cities will soon change forever.”
Coexist’s final day in the building is set for the 19th December 2018. The petition will be presented at the next Full Council Meeting on 12th December.
The petition can be found HERE.
Press Contact: Claire Holmes | firstname.lastname@example.org | 07708 570851
‘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)