Iconic LGBT venue Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London is being sold to new owner
Royal Vauxhall Tavern, an iconic LGBT venue in London is being sold to a new owner amid a battle to make the building a community owned venue.
Campaigners found out about news that the venue was in “advanced” stages of selling after they has secured special protections for the venue from Lambeth Council.
Campaign group RVT Future have been fighting to protect the 1860’s landmark after recent uncertainty about it’s future amid talks of new owners.
The bar became a Grade II listed building last year in recognition of its LGBT history, meaning that redevelopment of the bar is almost impossible.
However, campaigners fear that developers could transform the bar into a “straight” destination, or turn the upper floors into offices and accommodation.
RVT Future were applying for the sui generis classification on the property which would have stipulated that the building must be preserved as an LGBT performance space.
This allegedly pushed owners Immovate to put the bar back on the market for an estimated £4.1 million. However, RVT claim that Immovate side stepped allowing a community bid for the property despite securing an Asset of Community Value status.
It is believed that Immovate are selling their shares in the property, rather than the property, meaning that the ACV status does not have to be upheld.
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Co-chair of the campaign group Rob Holley told GSN: “Obviously we’re thrilled that Lambeth Council have officially designated the Royal Vauxhall Tavern an equal mix of pub, nightclub and cabaret, plus protected ancillary use of the accommodation.
“This means the Tavern’s use must be balanced between these activities, and a new buyer couldn’t parachute in a chain franchise or convert the top floors into private residential.”
Holley stressed that Immovate’s move was legal, but frustratingly sneaky.
“We (RVT Future) are now ready to launch a community bid. The community group, made up of Tavern performers, promoters and punters, are ready to kick off the biggest community buy-out in Britain,” he said. “We want to bring The Royal Vauxhall Tavern into community ownership to safeguard its future for its hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide.”
James Lindsay, who sold the bar to Immovate but still runs it on a day-to-day basis, said the new owners are willing to operate the bar as a LGBT venue.
“The potential new owner has indicated that they will continue to operate it as an LGBT venue, which is great news, and they will continue to invest in it. From where I’m sitting, that’s a good place to be in,” he said.