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Tower Hamlets taking steps to reverse the decline of LGBT+ venues

Tower Hamlets council has recently confirmed that the former site of a popular gay bar, the Joiners Arms, must include an LGBT+ club for the next 25 years.

Many people will be pleased to note that the council voted unanimously to ensure that any demolition of the building would only be approved if a late-night venue was built to replace it.

The decision also comes after research showed that London had lost 58% of its LGBT venues over the past decade, including seven of 10 in Tower Hamlets – prompting many to be worry that the prominence of these buildings could be in decline in the future.

It is believed to be the first time in history that a planning condition has contained the sexual orientation of a company’s target market. Although, this decision could impact future planning applications if the proposals are successful.

The council went as far as rejecting a previous proposal which suggested replacing the Joiners Arms with a gay pub open until midnight, saying the plans were not close enough to the original bar.

The plan, run by developer Regal Homes, had been to knock the site down and redesign the area with commercial and residential properties. The site will still be heavily redeveloped, but will now include a new venue.

The company has agreed to new terms which will see the site stay open until 2am Sunday- Wednesday nights, 3am on Thursday and Friday, and until 4am on Saturday. This plan will be enacted on a temporary basis by any proprietor who wants to purchase the property as an LGBT+ pub.

“I am pleased that following extensive negotiation between planning officers, the developers, the GLA and the Friends of the Joiners Arms the Development Committee has granted planning permission for an LGBTQ+ venue at the site of the Joiners Arms, said John Biggs, Tower Hamlets’ mayor.

“Tower Hamlets is leading the way in reversing the decline in LGBTQ+ venues which we have seen across London. As a council we want to celebrate the great diversity in the Borough, and are committed to serving the needs of all our communities.”

The council have made design amendments to the plans and have also agreed to make opening hours permanent if no serious complaints are made over a one-year period.

Top Image: Oyebola Opaneye


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