London club G-A-Y Late faces threat of redevelopment

Popular London nightclub G-A-Y Late faces potential disruption from a proposed redevelopment of its parent building.

Under plans proposed by building owners RDI Reit, three additional floors and a new facade will be grafted onto the offices above the late-night institution.

The Soho club had asked Westminster City Council to impose conditions on the refurbishment to ensure that it could operate as usual.

But on Tuesday (April 7), its request was rejected as a planning committee approved the redevelopment plans.

Westminster Councillor Richard Beddoe told PinkNews that the council is “committed to preserving the character of Soho and its unique night-time economy.”

“The venue asked the committee to put in measures to ensure they could continue to operate during the building’s refurbishment, but unfortunately that would be outside our legal powers,” Beddoe added.

“The new plans keep the space G-A-Y Late occupies and we have urged the owners to continue to keep this important Soho institution in this venue.”

“We have urged the owners to continue to keep this important Soho institution in this venue.”

—Councillor Richard Beddoe

Councillor Jonathan Glanz spoke alongside G-A-Y’s owner Jeremy Joseph at the meeting, and told PinkNews that the committee was “sympathetic” to the nightclub’s plight.

He stressed that Tuesday’s meeting was only an initial part of the process.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s office confirmed that they are in touch with G-A-Y and the council “to ensure there is minimal disruption to the venue from the planned redevelopment.”

Night Czar Amy Lamé told PinkNews: “G-A-Y Late is a much-loved LGBT+ venue that plays a vital role in the city’s night-time economy and the LGBT+ community. The Mayor is committed to supporting the capital’s LGBT+ venues.”

Fears G-A-Y Late could close temporarily

G-A-Y initially requested protections in a public comment submitted on March 6.

In it, G-A-Y’s owners reported being told that works could force the club to close “anywhere between six to 18 months,” most likely from summer 2021.

“Our utmost concern is to protect the future of the venue as an important late-night entertainment venue within the LGBT+ community and contributor to London’s night-time economy,” they said.

The owners had asked the council to consider Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s pledge in his draft New London Plan to “protect cultural assets and community spaces… especially those used in the evening or nighttime.”

G-A-Y Late previously faced closure in 2017, after its rent was upped by £400,000 per year. Westminster Council handed the club a lifeline in the form of a 4am licence.

G-A-Y says it has a sub-lease on the basement club space through 2028.

London LGBT+ nightclubs a dying breed

In June 2017 researchers from UCL Urban Laboratory found that the number of LGBT+ venues in London had fallen by 58 percent over the preceding decade. A fifth of those that closed did so due to redevelopment.

Ben Campkin and Laura Marshall reported that closures resulted in “anxiety and other negative emotions,” adding that “the heritage of LGBTQ+ people is embedded in the fabric.”

One notable loss was the Joiners Arms, which closed its doors in 2015.

The east London pub is due to be demolished to make way for a luxury apartment complex. The development was green-lit on the condition that it include a replacement LGBT+ venue, guaranteed for 25 years.

The landmark decision came after a spirited campaign, and was heralded as the first time such a ruling had taken into account the sexual orientation of a venue’s customers.