A London council has told developers that plans for a building complex of offices and flats must include a gay bar to counteract the “alarming” rate at which gay bars are closing down.
Tower Hamlets have stated that the site of the old Joiners Arms gay pub can only be developed on condition that it “remain[s] a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-focused venue for a minimum of 12 years”. The Guardian added that “the mayor’s office will send an inspector to make sure it is gay enough”.
This is believed to be a landmark ruling where the sexual orientation of a building’s users has been included in the conditions for planning approval.
The left wing newspaper also noted that City Hall’s ‘culture at risk’ office will be involved in assessing license applications to ensure the new bar will be “sufficiently LGBT” and not “a gay bar in name only”.
Decrying that more than half of gay pubs and nightclubs in London have closed since the advent of casual hook-up apps like Grindr, the paper pointed to the fact that the office of the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, is pressuring planners to do more to ensure that gay venues in the nation’s capital, which is experiencing a housing crisis, are ‘protected’ from housing developments.
“I hold LGBT+ venues in very high regard and have made it clear that protecting them is an integral part of my plans to grow London’s night-time economy and culture,” Khan said.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for LGBT+ venues to exist, and as difficult as possible for them to close. That is why I called for an annual audit of LGBT+ venues and, together with my night tsar Amy Lamé, we will do all we can to halt the closures of these precious venues and encourage others to open,” he added.
A spokesman for Regal Homes, who bought the site in 2014, said: “We are committed to keeping this space within our development in Tower Hamlets as a LGBT+ venue…
“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.”