A petition to save a community space which provides working environments for artists, charities and social enterprises, has reached the 3,500 signatures needed for it to be debated by Bristol City Council.
Local campaign group ‘Save Hamilton House’ have an ongoing campaign to save the community space in Stokes Croft. The petition, which was posted by them, reached its target less than three days after launching on the Bristol City Council website.
The petition calls on Bristol City Council to buy the building from the current owners Connolly & Callaghan (C&C) , in order that the space can be turned over to direct community ownership through a Community Share Issue (CSI).
The CSI scheme is the same that saved Bristol’s Exchange earlier this year.
The petition will be brought to the next full council meeting on January 15 of next year.
Claire Holmes, director of the CCBS, spoke of the “amazing” response to the campaign.
“We really had no idea what the take-up would be on the petition when it first came out, and we were watching it very eagerly for the first 24 hours and it just shot up,” she said.
“We’re really happy and we’re hoping it’s going to go from strength to strength.”
Despite the response, Coexist are still being forced to leave Hamilton House by December 19. However, Claire says that Coexist are “fully committed” to saving Hamilton House as a community space.
“It’s kind of bigger than us now. It’s more about leaving a legacy for the local area and we really want to ensure that the building continues to be used in a way that is beneficial to the community, whether that’s us that does that or whether we work with the council in some way, we don’t know what that’s going to look like.
“We really want to say to the council that we’re fully committed to – whether we’re here or not – continuing on with this process.”
Although Claire said she was optimistic about the future of Hamilton House, her job will be one of more than 20 being lost when Coexist are forced to leave the building.
Additionally, the independent artists and small business that lease the building’s studio spaces will also lose their work spaces, including printmaker Kerry, who has been left feeling “very emotional” by the uncertain future of Hamilton House.
“At the moment I feel very angry that it’s got to this point where I feel like we’re being forced out,” she said.
“The artists have made this building what it is today, have made the area what it is today, and now that it’s become trendy, we’re being chucked out.
“I’m angry that we’re just being tossed aside.”
Claire further emphasised the importance of community spaces like Hamilton House.
“I think spaces like this are more important now than ever before. I think the feeling of belonging that people get from a space like Hamilton House is something which is really hard to find nowadays.
“It’s the social health of the community. It brings work opportunity, brings a huge amount of money into the local economy.
“The city of Bristol is so famous for art and so much of that is produced in this building, and that feeds into tourism, as well as our community outreach projects.
“There’s a huge amount at risk that we hope will be preserved.
“I would ask Bristol City Council to see what’s been done here over the last 10 years and to have faith that the community is empowered – we know what we can create and we can create a bright future for ourselves.”
Bristol residents can sign the petition urging the council to buy Hamilton House on the City Council website