As plans for an upmarket hotel to be built where the Foundry currently stands are considered by Hackney Council this evening, a charity that offers support to injured bike couriers has criticised plans to demolish its “community base” in the borough.
The London Courier Emergency Fund (LCEF), which runs a helpline and raises cash for bicycle couriers hurt on the capital’s roads, holds monthly meetings at The Foundry, an Old Street pub and arts venue slated for demolition to make way for a 17-storey building called the “art’otel”.
LCEF founder Darren Coxson, who lives on City Road, said couriers and artists who use the Foundry are desperate to keep it open.
The LCEF makes a minimum payment of £150 to riders kept off the road for two weeks following an accident.
Mr Coxson warned “non-corporate” meeting places were being lost because of “the encroachment of cold, modern, seemingly soulless developments” in Old Street.
He said, “We use The Foundry as a base and our races start from there. There are lots of couriers that use it and lots of artists. If it went, we would lose the base for our community.”
Developer Park Plaza Hotels submitted a proposal for the 350-room art’otel on the site last year. The council’s planning sub-committee will reach a decision on the plans this evening.
Two weeks ago, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), the government’s advisory body on architecture, criticised the “low quality appearance” of the scheme by architects Squire and Partners, saying the aluminium-clad development was out of keeping with its surroundings.
A spokesperson for Squire and Partners said the firm would “take account of their comments and suggestions”.
Jonathan Moberly, who runs The Foundry with his wife, artist Tracey Moberly, said he hoped to find new premises for the venue, possibly elsewhere in Hackney.
He said, “Our position is that we can’t really fight this because the developer is our landlord. If we fight it, they’ll just kick us out. We want to relocate to as close as possible to where we are now.”
Park Plaza Hotels declined to comment./ 3 February, 2010