Thousands oppose gay venue closure

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Over 16,000 people have signed a petition opposing the closure of the home of the G-A-Y nightclub.

The Astoria was sold in June for around ?24 million to Derwent Valley developers who are reportedly planning to turn the venue into shops, offices and flats.

Partygoers including the gay community are determined to keep the popular music venue open.

G-A-Y is owned by the Mean Fiddler Group.

Promoted by Jeremy Joseph, the gay night has played host to Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, the Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, Suga Babes and with X-Factor winner Shayne Ward.

Derwent Valley Central has struck a deal with Mean Fiddler to re-develop the complex on Tottenham Court Road housing the Astoria venue.

The plan is reported to include knocking down the complex to make way for extra shops, flats and offices in time for the 2012 Olympics.

Mr Joseph told The Guardian that the Astoria was not definitely closing, he said: “Everything is up in the air, I’m not going to worry about it at this stage.”

The petition says, “We’re not letting the Astoria go without a fight. An outlet for the arts is being destroyed in favour of something the surrounding area doesn’t really lack in.

“England is at an all-time high as far as developing new music is concerned – why stunt that by taking away the premier music venue of its size in London”

“The Astoria marks the point at which a band is just about to hit the big time – the loss of this place may take away the rise of the next big breakthrough in London’s music scene.

“The only other venues of similar size are in North London – not the best place to be caught after dark when you’re a bit worse for wear.

“As the sale has already taken place and there’s no reversing that we may as well try for a new complex of shops to be built around the venue, like the Islington Academy.

“So join the revolution! Save the Astoria! Whether or not you’re a Londoner, if you care about live music spread the word, wear the t-shirt or at the very least sign this petition!

“Bulldozers move in in 2008. We’re not giving up hope yet, and neither should you.”

John Burns, Managing Director of Derwent Valley, said: “The Astoria is a valuable addition and a strategic acquisition, which adjoins our existing holdings in the area and will form a potential development site for the future.

“We are committed to the regeneration of key areas in London and are looking forward to the opportunities afforded by such a prominent location.”

The Astoria is let for ?1 million a year until 2008 under terms agreed by the previous owner Compco. According to the most recent published accounts, the venue turns over ?6.2 million excluding an annual payment of ?5.75 million to Jeremy Joseph.

The Astoria’s new owners, Derwent Valley may face problems in redeveloping the venue as the site is being considered as a location for the a new Crossrail station should the line be approved by Parliament.

In the event that the bill receives Parliamentary approval, the site could be purchased using compulsory purchase orders.

The petition can be signed at