The London Courier Emergency Fund (LCEF) faces having to find a new site for its meetings after Hackney council last night approved plans to redevelop The Foundry bar and arts venue on Old Street, and replace it with a 17-storey boutique hotel.
The LCEF, which supports bicycle couriers injured during their employment, making a minimum payment of £150 for riders kept off the road for two weeks as a result of an accident, holds its monthly meetings at The Foundry, which also regularly hosts art exhibitions.
Located in Hoxton, where over the past couple of decades a vibrant art and nightlife scene has sprung up, following a decision by the London Borough of Hackney’s planning sub-committee last night, the venue is now set to be demolished to make way for the UK’s first art’hotel, a chain that already operates establishments in Germany and Hungary and now expanding into Morocco and The Netherlands.
The Foundry was co-founded by Bill Drummond, formerly of the pop group KLF, and is run by Jonathan Moberly and his wife, Tracey Moberly, an artist.
The couple are hopeful to relocate elsewhere in the area, with Mr Moberley telling the Hackney Citizen: “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.”
Ahead of last night’s meeting, LCEF founder Darren Coxson had told the Hackney Citizen: “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,” adding that the proposed development was another example of “non-corporate” venues disappearing due to “the encroachment of cold, modern, seemingly soulless developments” in the area.
He added, “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.”
When road.cc spoke to him today, Darren claimed that he wasn’t surprised by the news, which he said had been a long time coming, adding that he hoped to continue working with the Moberlys, whom he said had been very supportive of the LCEF during the last couple of years, in finding a new venue for its meetings.
He added that he believed that the non-corporate artistic vibe that has built up around The Foundry fitted in well with the courier ethos and lifestyle.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.