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Appeal for business to run community cafe in renovated Clapton Common public toilet

PUBLISHED: 11:23 25 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:10 25 October 2017

The Clapton Commons group outside the dilapidated loo last year. Picture: Kristen Perers

The Clapton Commons group outside the dilapidated loo last year. Picture: Kristen Perers

Archant

A “kitchen champion” is being sought as part of plans to turn a dilapidated toilet block into a thriving community café.

Hackney Council approved planning permission for the toilet block change of use in March 2016. Picture: Mike Abrahams Hackney Council approved planning permission for the toilet block change of use in March 2016. Picture: Mike Abrahams

The 700 square foot building, nicknamed “Liberty Hall” because of its mock-Tudor look, is in Clapton Common. It was last in use three decades ago.

Plans for its revival are being led by Clapton Commons, an alliance of community groups including Clapton Terrace Residents’ Association and St Thomas Church.

The organisation began advertising last week for a tenant to fill the space following its renovation, which is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2018.

Clapton Commons director Mike Abrahams, 61, told the Gazette: “We are desperate for something set up with the common good in mind. We want to see people come along with community outreach ideas.”

Hackney Council, which owns the building, will work with the group to appoint the “kitchen champion” by the end of this year.

The council’s help has been crucial in getting the scheme off the ground, Mike told the Gazette: “They have been fantastic, and are incredibly supportive. We are very grateful to them.”

Clapton Commons received planning permission for changing the building’s use from Hackney Council’s planning sub-committee in March 2016.

The changes permitted include external alterations allowing for the creation of a new front porch, a single storey extension at the back, new windows and a landscaped area with bicycle racks.

The initial renovation of the building is expected to cost upwards of £150,000, and will ensure the structure is watertight and connected to all utilities.

The new tenant will then be able to customise the building according to their own business plans, with rent expected to be in the region of £12,000 per year for up to seven years under a fixed term rental agreement.

The project will provide an example of what can be done with the borough’s disused spaces, Mike said.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years and every day I’ve looked across the road and seen this derelict toilet block,” he added.

“We will be looking at other vacant spaces to see what we can do with them to get them back in use.”

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