Regenerated

Because a hotel and shopping mall will have so much richer a cultural value…(and they say Britons don’t value the arts, some small irony that if the de-polticised strain of artists had not been so successfully neutered by the likes of Tory Saatchi this might not be happening, still you pays your money and you get fucked, capital is always scheming)

Beloved centre of London’s alternative art scene for a decade is set for demolition, but six-metre Banksy mural to be preserved

Pete Doherty used to host its poetry nights, the band Hot Chip formed there, and artists from Banksy to Gavin Turk have adorned its walls and propped up its bar.

But now the Foundry, an east London gallery and pub that for more than a decade has served as a focal point for the area’s alternative art scene, seems set to be demolished after the site’s owners drew up plans for an 18-storey hotel and retail complex.

Hackney council was today expected to approve plans to pull down the building which houses the much-loved if rather ramshackle space in Shoreditch close to the edge of the City, despite protests from the gallery’s founders that it performs a vital artistic function in the London borough.

In what its supporters regard as a particularly ironic twist, the council intends to salvage a wall painted with one of the biggest Banksy murals in Britain, even as the remainder of the building is demolished. The planned redevelopment, part of the Art’otel chain, will also incorporate gallery and retail space and a spa.

Foundry founders Tracey and Jonathan Moberly expect to be evicted by April, when the site will be cleared for the construction of a circular tower block by award-winning architects Squire and Partners. The Moberlys said they were “pretty resigned” to the fact that the art space would close, and had no objections to the conduct of the architects or the developers, Park Plaza hotels. “That’s fair enough. This isn’t our building, we’ve been renting, and they have been supportive in helping us look for another premises,” said Tracey Moberly.

But the couple are angry with Hackney council, which they accused of refusing to designate the Foundry as an artistic space, which they say would require the council to seek to resettle it in other premises, preferring to refer to it in planning documents only as a pub.

The council has also specified its intention in the planning officer’s report for the “safe removal and retention of ‘Banksy’ art work” – a six-metre high painting of a rat with a knife and fork over which the building’s owners have constructed a protective wooden covering. A spokeswoman for Squire and Partners said: “The aim of the client and design team is to permanently locate the artworks on site, in one of the public galleries at ground floor – this is to be agreed with Hackney council.”

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