Bristol

Bristol community and arts hub thrown lifeline by council

Hamilton House, Bristol Image copyright Google
Image caption Hamilton House is used by hundreds of people working in creative and community roles

A building used as a community and arts hub - best known for a Banksy mural - could be bought by a council.

Residents of Stokes Croft in Bristol launched a campaign to prevent Hamilton House being turned into flats.

There has been a sustained campaign to save the building, with more than 6,000 people signing a petition, which triggered a city council debate.

Councillor Craig Cheney said he would explore a business case to buy the building.

Some of Bristol's most famous people - including Daddy G from Massive Attack - have backed the campaign to save the arts hub. He said plans to turn the building into flats were "absolutely disgraceful".

Campaigner Gem Burgoyne told the meeting a purchase by the council would secure "a legacy that's been central to the area's regeneration".

She suggested several options, including raising cash from a community share scheme to buy the building, which contains a restaurant and dance studio, from owners Connolly and Callaghan.

Mr Cheney, deputy mayor for finance, agreed to meet with Ms Burgoyne to discuss a possible business plan.

Image caption The Banksy artwork on Hamilton House has been there for a number of years

He said if a solution could be found "that sustains the borrowing, that sustains the building itself and delivers all the things we've talked about today, then I'm well up for it".

Social enterprise Coexist, which managed part of Hamilton House until last month, rented out inexpensive space at the building to 200 artists and 400 more people working in creative and community roles.

Plans to turn part of the building into apartments were recently rejected by the Planning Inspectorate, which upheld the council's decision to turn them down.

Hamilton House features a mural by Bristol street artist Banksy, which depicts a teddy bear throwing a Molotov cocktail at three riot police.

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