Award-winning queer campaigners Friends of the Joiners Arms, who have fought proposals to demolish iconic queer venue The Joiners Arms since 2014, announce that they have obtained new commitments for an LGBTQ+ venue to be re-provided in the redevelopment of the site, including a new landmark commitment for developers to pay towards a meanwhile-use space.
As part of new proposals to turn the wider site into a hotel, developers have committed to plans that will include improved protections for the re-provision of a permanent LGBTQ+ venue, plus a new contribution of £100k towards a meanwhile use space for the local queer community to be made as soon as construction begins. This is believed to be the first time a temporary queer venue will be created as part of a planning condition, and will be paid to London Borough of Tower Hamlets for the specific purpose of providing a meanwhile-use space for the Friends of the Joiners Arms, to prevent any further delay to the queer community having access to a venue.
Amy Roberts, Chair of Friends of the Joiners Arms, said:
“We have always said that the best thing for the local and wider queer community, and existing residents, would be provision of much needed social housing and the re-opening of the Joiners Arms as a unique, wonky, community-run queer pub. If the development goes ahead, we need to ensure the queer community has a long-term replacement venue plus a meanwhile space to compensate for years of enforced closure. However, there are some serious outstanding issues which threaten the long-term viability of the future venue and the well-being of the local residents – and these should not be pitted against each other.”
A representative of the Columbia Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) said:
“The local TRA welcomes the Council’s commitment to bringing back an LGBTQ+ venue to the Joiners Arms site and is looking forward to working with the Friends of the Joiners Arms campaign on this project going forward. However, residents are very concerned at plans to build a ‘party’ hotel in a residential area, particularly given so many hotels have already been built close by in recent years.”
John Sizzle, Co- Owner, The Glory, said:
“The protection of our queer spaces is an ongoing necessity. These venues, buildings and monuments combine to become our churches. These are places where we congregate to love, laugh and cry. Places where we learn & grow into producing loving adults and places where we impart our knowledge pass on that important history. ‘Friends of the Joiners Arms are devoted to ensuring our collective history and our places of worship, our churches, are preserved for future generations to gain strength and wisdom from.”
The application will be voted on at the Tower Hamlets Development Planning Committee 14th January 2021, in a virtual meeting meaning anyone can attend online.