London gay bar development must include an LGBTI space, in first of its kind planning permission
Legendary London gay bar The Joiners Arms could be set to make a comeback – of sorts.
The popular queer drinking hole in East London closed down in 2014. But the local council have hatched plans to help preserve the space as an LGBTI venue.
Tower Hamlets council has told a developer that planning permission for nine flats will only be granted if part of the building remains a queer-focused venue for a minimum of 12 years.
Regulars at the Hackney Road drinking hole included singers Patrick Wolf and Rufus Wainwright, plus late fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets commented: ‘Tower Hamlets council is committed to celebrating our great diversity, which includes serving the needs of our LGBTQ+ community.
‘I am delighted that as a council we are leading the way in using innovative ways to protect spaces such as the Joiners Arms site.’
Meanwhile, Ed Bayes, Culture at Risk Officer at City Hall, will help in the assessing of licensee applications to make sure the space is not gay in name only.
Other parts of the building will also be used for office space.
The news follows UCL’s report this year that 58% of London’s LGBTI venues have closed down in the last 10 years.
The study found that the number of queer nightlife spaces has decreased from 125 to 53 since 2006.
A spokesperson for Regal Homes said: ‘The development on Hackney Road will re-provide a public house at ground-floor level with the same floor space as the previous Joiners Arms pub.
‘We are committed to keeping this space within our development in Tower Hamlets as a LGBT+ venue and have offered a right of first refusal on the lease to LGBT+ interested parties, including the Friends of the Joiners Arms and the New Joiners Arms.
‘If the lease is taken up by an interested party then the venue will be secured for at least 12 years for LGBT+ use. We have also agreed a rent-free period for the first year. We have met on numerous occasions with the Friends of the Joiners Arms, the New Joiners Arms and with the mayor’s night tsar, Amy Lamé, to discuss the future of an LGBT+ venue at our development and fully endorse the LGBT+ venues charter.’