Luxury flat redevelopment must include LGBT venue

Tower Hamlets has lost 73 percent of its LGBT venues since 2006 Pic: Save the Joiners Arms –

Tower Hamlets Council has ordered housing developers to include a LGBT bar as part of its multi-million pound development on the site of an iconic gay pub.

The Joiners Arms in Hackney Road shut in 2015 after being bought by developer Regal Homes a year prior. The company plans to build nine luxury flats along with a bar.

The decision to include a LGBT bar comes after a serious decline in LGBT venues in Tower Hamlets over the last decade.

It is believed to be the first time that sexual orientation has been included as a planning condition.

A spokesperson for Regal Homes said:  “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.”

Amy Lamé, the captial’s ‘Night Czar’, has been working with the council to re-establish a LGBT venue in Hackney Road.

She said LGBT venues “contribute to London’s economy, generate stronger and more resilient communities and are vital for many people’s freedom of expression”.

Lamé added the capital had lost 58 per cent of its LGBT venues over the past decade, while Tower Hamlets had lost around 73 per cent according to a report by University College of London.

The report specifically cited The Joiner’s Arms closure as one of several distinguished LGBT venues to close in recent years.

The pub originally opened in 1997 as an LGBT venue and its regular customers included the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, actor Rupert Everett, and former Westlife singer Mark Feehily.

The development is expected to be approved on Wednesday following a vote by the council’s planning committee.

Mayor John Biggs said: “Tower Hamlets Council is committed to celebrating our great diversity, which includes serving the needs of our LGBT+ 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.”

A Culture at Risk Officer from City Hall will assess the new bar to ensure it sufficiently meets the LGBT requirements and the redevelopment is expected to create 1,073 jobs.

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