The disused public toilets on Clapton Common are to be converted into a café and ‘village hall’ for the area in a project put forward by a new community group.
Hackney Council has given its approval to proposals from Clapton Commons – an alliance of Clapton Terrace Residents’ Association and St Thomas’ Church – to bring the building, dormant for thirty years, back into use as a community space serving food and drink.
“The sour-dough loaf has marched through Hackney and Clapton has fallen a little behind,” said Father William Taylor, vicar at St. Thomas’ and spokesman for Clapton Commons.
“In most parts of Hackney these days you’re never more than ten minutes away from a café latte, and here we’re about fifteen minutes away. So we’re trying to bring a bit of that to Clapton as well as providing something with a social purpose.”
Erected in the 1950’s, the building’s mock-Tudor look has inspired the project’s working title of Liberty Hall. As well as hosting the café, Liberty Hall could also act as a venue for classes on financial literacy and affordable cookery, with the possibility of happy hours inspired by its vintage, serving food and drink at 1950s prices.
The journey from water-closet to watering hole could be a tough one. Katie Harris, who converted a former block of loos in Homerton into the Convenience bar, a home for her social enterprise NANA, said, “We didn’t want to pretend the building was never a toilet.
“So the design challenge was: how do you make people want to eat food in a toilet? We made the urinals into a bar where you can have a drink, and we replaced the tiles as they were a bit piss-yellow. Otherwise, it was making the most of a small space.”
Clapton Commons is still looking for a ‘food champion’ to run the café and will be making a final selection at the end of April.
Interested parties are advised to submit proposals through the Clapton Commons website as soon as possible.