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Our Response to the All Hallows Hall Planning Application

If you would like to comment on the application, please click here. The deadline is Monday 3rd August.

Bristol Co-operative Gym is the first cooperatively-run gym in the country. We aim to provide a supportive, inclusive exercise environment where members of the local community can improve their health and fitness.

Since September 2016 we have used All Hallows Hall for our classes on three evenings a week, as well as for numerous weekend workshops. In this time we have welcomed more than 900 members of the local community to train with us. Our unique model means that we are run by those same members – currently a team of 19, 17 of whom live within the BS5 postcode. There are very few gyms in Lawrence Hill, and none in the country that have our model and would meet the needs of our members. We have serious concerns about the proposed development’s impact on our ability to provide this essential service to our community.

Bristol Local Plan Policy DM5 states that “proposals involving the loss of community facilities will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that, inter alia, the community facility can be fully retained, enhanced or reinstated as part of any redevelopment of the building or land.” Bristol Development Framework Core Strategy states that, “Existing community facilities should be retained, unless it can be demonstrated that there is no longer a need to retain the use or where alternative provision is made.” Although the community facility has not been removed as such, and there is no application for change of use, we believe that the proposed changes would seriously jeopardize the viability of the hall as a community facility for the reasons given below.

There is existing design guidance that for even the smallest hall or community centre there should be: main activity and assembly space; entrance foyer; equipment and furniture store; kitchen; toilets, including facilities for disabled people; changing provision; cleaner’s store; boiler or plant room.

Loss of Storage

In order for current uses to be maintained, there must be provision for storage of equipment and for furniture; currently the hall is used for a wide variety of art and sport forms (from trapeze to table tennis to weight lifting and anything in between). 

We store our barbells, kettlebells, weight plates etc. in what is proposed to be the “Female WC”. It may be possible that the equipment is planned to be stored upstairs but its combined weight of hundreds of kilograms would make this impractical and dangerous. Without appropriate storage, we wouldn’t be able to run our classes.

The same is true of the Ping Pong Parlour’s table tennis tables currently stored in the area proposed to be the “Male WC” and the Hoop Jam’s circus equipment currently in the “Disabled Toilet”.

Cycle parking

The majority of our users travel to our sessions via bicycle. The proposed amount of cycle parking is insufficient for our members’ needs – especially if this is to be shared with the residents of the flats – and access seems poorly thought-through.

Toilets and changing facilities

In the proposal, the facilities for toilets are minimal and poorly designed. Having gendered toilets is in conflict with our ethos of being inclusive and open to people of all gender identities.

The proposed accessible toilet doesn’t appear to meet Changing Places’ standards.

There is no provision of changing facilities, which is necessary to support and sustain use for both physical exercise and the arts. Again, the current toilet area meets this requirement.

Loss of the yard

In good weather, we can currently train in the yard. The option of training outside is even more important during the coronavirus restrictions. Under the current guidance, our indoor classes would be limited to six people rather than our usual sixteen, which has an enormous impact on our pricing and business model. In the yard we can have sixteen people and keep our prices the same while still having access to the nearby indoor storage of our heavy equipment. This would not be possible in a park or equivalent outdoor space.

Additionally, during indoor classes we often have the back and side doors open and use that and a fan to provide a through-flow of air during our sessions. This is even more important given the current government guidance of extra ventilation due to the coronavirus. The current position of the door will mean it obstructs the entrance to the flats when open and also potentially compromise our members’ privacy while training.

The loss of a second public exit to the hall also prevents us from meeting the coronavirus guidance of using a one-way system with one door for entering and one for exiting.

Access requirements

Although the argument that the proximity to train station and bus routes would mean that car parking for the flats is not necessary, there has been no thought about access by car for disabled users of the space, which at present is made possible by the side door to the courtyard with Baggator, to which access is possible if needed.

Other facilities missing

Provision for cleaning (e.g. cleaner’s cupboard) and of heating technologies have not been made.

Removal of the stage

We are concerned about the impact that the removal of the stage would have on the theatre groups and stage shows that use this rare resource at various times throughout the year. There are very few community venues in Bristol, let alone in the Easton / Lawrence Hill area, that have a stage setup. The loss of the stage appears to be being justified as necessary for the upkeep of the building but there doesn’t appear to be any economic justification of this or analysis of what the loss of the stage would mean for use of the facility.

Effect on Joint Work with Baggator

We are concerned by the lack of consideration given to our neighbour, Baggator Young People’s Project, and for the threat of the development to the relationship between Baggator and All Hallows Hall.

The flexibility for community use that has long been possible through the joint access to space and co-operation with Baggator has led to vital work that supports not just the wellbeing but also the essential needs of residents of Lawrence Hill, one of the poorest wards in the city.

Lack of proper consultation

We were not contacted to assess the impact of this proposal on our use of All Hallows Hall. As can be seen by their comments and objections, neither were the other community groups which use it and Baggator. Any development that had serious concern for preserving the community use of the hall would surely have consulted its users.

Conclusion

We are proud to be a part of the rich tapestry of community activity that All Hallows Hall provides. The proposed developments undermine the viability of our unique co-operative gym and of the community space in general in the name of producing four small units of accommodation. This development would have a negative impact that is far greater than is immediately evident.

Big Winter Update – Closing Dates, Socials, T-shirts, Workshops and more!

The end of the year is fast approaching and it’s strange to think that we are already in the second week of our final five-week block of 2019. There are a few things we wanted to let you know about.

Dates of Closure Over the New Year

We will have our last session of the year on Thursday 19th December and will re-open on Monday 6th January.

Have a fantastic break!

Winter Socials

To celebrate a fantastic year, we’d love you to join us for two activities:

  • A drink after training at The Plough on Wednesday 18th December, from 19:00/20:00 onwards. Monday and Thursday folks, please do come and join us!
  • A wintery walk from All Hallows at 11:00 on Saturday 21st December. We’ll go up to Greenbank Cemetery / Eastville Park and end up somewhere for lunch, if anyone would like to stay for that.

Change of LIST Class Timing

Monday’s Low-Intensity Strength Training class will now run from 19:00-20:00 rather than 19:15-20:15, starting this coming week (Monday 2nd December).

T-Shirts

Our first t-shirt

YES, we are taking pre-orders for our first-ever, limited run of BCG shirts!!

The design, by Guy, shows two hands raised in celebration with letters spelling the name of our gym scattered above.

Printed in white water-based ink on high-quality black 100% organic cotton Stanley Stella shirts by the mighty eco-friendly printers I Dress Myself in Frome, the shirts and all production processes are vegan, non-toxic, fair-labour, carbon-neutral, and done with minimal use of plastic.

They come in a non-gendered fit and a wide range of sizes. A good way to get the right size is to measure a t-shirt you know you like the fit of.

Orders will close on the evening of Sunday 1st December, and we won’t be printing any more after that. We should have delivery of the shirts by w/c 16th December and they will be ready to be collect from sessions in that last week before we close for the winter break.

We aren’t offering postage so if you live elsewhere it’s probably best to contact a Bristol-based friend and ask them to get yours.

You can place orders the same way you book sessions through TeamUp – just click on Store. Or go here.

Our Coaches’ Other Classes and Workshops

Both Isidora and Guy offer classes and workshops outside of the gym. Here’s what’s coming up:

  • Isidora’s weekly Animal Movement class at Hamilton House on Saturdays, 12:15-13:15, gives the opportunity to practice the sorts of mobility and strength training she introduced to us in her workshop earlier in the year. Weightlifting, body-weight, strength and mobility training are combined with a holistic approach that starts from the breath’s awareness and reaches the ‘false’ movement patterns we establish with our everyday mentality, choices and emotions. It is the only class of its sort in Bristol. You can book through Move GB or by getting in touch with her directly.
  • Guy has two workshops coming up on Sunday 8th December and Sunday 26th January titled ‘New Year, New Fitness Culture‘. Designed as an antithesis to the January body-shaming fitness frenzy, come and learn how to dismantle the assumptions and practices of the fitness industry and then build your own unique, super-effective exercise practice in their place. Find out more and book on through his website.