Press Release – “LGBTQI+ community reject ‘landmark planning condition’ in defiance of property developers”

On Wednesday 9th August, Campaigners are asking Tower Hamlets Council to reject a planning application (1) that could see the iconic East London LGBTQI+ (2) venue Joiners Arms demolished.

The Friends of the Joiners Arms (3), who have fought for nearly three years to save the venue, are now calling upon councillors to reject the property developer’s planning application and work with them to re-establish the venue under community control. The application, which is the first of its kind to include a clause for the developers to give right of first refusal to LGBT operators, also limits opening hours to 11pm (12 midnight on Friday/Saturday) and a smaller total space than the historic Joiners Arms pub. Friends of the Joiners Arms are inviting members of the LGBTQI community to attend the committee meeting and show their support for the campaign outside the building.

‘Friends of the Joiners Arms’ (FOTJA) co-chair Amy Roberts said

“With no basement space, no off-street smoking area, no ancillary accommodation, and a recommendation from the officers that it closes early 7 days a week, we cannot possibly hope to have a space resembling or replacing the important role the Joiners Arms played in our community. The proposed planning clause also allows the developers to ‘mark their own homework’ in terms of selecting an LGBTQI+ operator. Tower Hamlets has lost 70% of its queer spaces in the last decade, and we believe this application will guarantee we lose in our aim to re-provide a late-licence, community-focussed LGBTQI+ space.

We appreciate the commitment Tower Hamlets council and its councillors have made to saving and protecting queer venues in the borough. We – as the LGBT+ local community – ask you to continue to listen to our voices, and reject these plans. The development will not end with a queer venue opening its doors in Tower Hamlets. The council has a chance to change that.”

James Watson (Campaign for Real Ale) said:

“As pub campaigners and lovers of pubs, our starting point is always to resist the unnecessary loss of pubs. The Joiners Arms was a sound, viable business which was profitable and fulfilled a community social role as well as being an important part of the London LGBTQI+ scene. It appears that it fell victim to developer greed when the freehold was sold to the present applicant who promptly shut the pub.

It is almost unthinkable to believe that a future pub would be granted the late licence which the pub previously enjoyed. In our experience, when developers offer “new A4 space”, there is no intention of ever realistically being used as a pub. Our view is that you should resist and insist that the existing Joiners Arms is saved. You will never see anything like the equivalent venue on that site and I should be surprised if you get any practical A4 use at all if this scheme goes ahead.”

Night Tzar Amy Lame said

“In order to stem closures of LGBT+ spaces the Mayor has instructed me to make protecting LGBT+ venues an urgent priority by acting as a mediator between venue owners, and developers and pub companies, and reaching out to venues in trouble to offer support from City Hall. I hope that Tower Hamlets is able to enable the re-opening of The Joiner’s Arms as an LGBT+ venue that can act as a catalyst for the local economy and the wider borough.”

About Friends of the Joiners Arms
The Friends of the Joiners Arms is a campaign group seeking to re-open and develop The Joiners Arms, Hackney Road. The group have secured Asset of Community Value for the pub, which will give the community a greater say in the building’s use and have priority in purchasing it.

With the building, the group intends to transform the Joiners Arms into London’s only cooperatively owned and managed LGBTQI Community Centre, while maintaining its functions as a pub with late license. This will be a space that provides vital facilities and support to all LGBTQIA individuals and allies who wish to stand up for minority communities, support one another, and proactively engage in building a future free of hate and insecurity.

Contacts

Friends of the Joiners Arms – https://thejoinersliveson.wordpress.com/ / joinersliveson@gmail.com / Peter Cragg – 07990 990868 / Amy Roberts 07961 579757

Photos available here: https://we.tl/LuFLEv6njx

Notes to Editors

  1. London Borough of Tower Hamlets Development Committee is meeting on Wed 9th August, starting 19.00. Venue is Council Chamber, 1st Floor, Town Hall, Mulberry Place, 5 Clove Crescent, London, E14 2BG. NEAREST TUBE/DLR – East India or Blackwall. Friends of the Joiners Arms will be hosting speeches and performances outside. 
  2. LGBTQI+ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex
  3. Friends of the Joiners Arms – https://thejoinersliveson.wordpress.com/
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