The building on the corner of Union Street in Plymouth had been empty since the mid-1980s when one year, at their annual street party, residents decided to do something about it. It was one of several boarded up properties in Stonehouse, one of the 1 per cent most deprived areas in the country and one of the only places in Plymouth with a licensed sex trade.
Led by Stonehouse Action, a community group, residents hatched plans to transform the derelict building into a permanent space that embodied the spirit of the street party all year round.
“We talked to organisations about helping us renovate the building, but after seven months of talking it turned out they couldn’t,” says Wendy Hart, the vice chair of Stonehouse Action. The group knew that grant funding could take a long time to secure. So in June 2015 they turned to a crowdfunding initiative launched by Plymouth Council and appealed to the community to help them raise £10,000 in 28 days.