Back in 2015, legendary LGBTQ+ venue the Joiners Arms was forced to shut its doors. The east London pub (opened in 1997) was part of a chunk of land bought for development.
Then its developers did nothing with the space for six years.
Friends of the Joiners Arms – an activist group who fought to save the venue back in 2015 – have continued to push to ensure that whatever is built with the purchased land includes an LGBTQ+ venue.
Now there’s good news. Developer Regal London – which is planning to turn the site into a hotel, flats and offices – has offered to both provide a longterm replacement venue and to cough up an additional £100,000 to London Borough of Tower Hamlets to fund a pop-up queer venue while construction is underway.
The pop-up is thought to be the first provision of its kind from a developer and activists believe that it will provide a home for the local LGBTQ+ community until the permanent space arrives. Amy Roberts, Chair of Friends of the Joiners Arms, says that it will ‘compensate for years of enforced closure’. Although she adds: ‘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 hotel proposal goes ahead, the pop-up will run for 12 months. It’ll then be followed by a permanent space, protected for 25 years and run by an LGBTQ+ venue operator. The application for it will be voted on in a Tower Hamlets planning meeting later this week.
Want to support Friends of the Joiners Arms in their fight to protect queer venues across the city? You can tune in to the Tower Hamlets meeting online or join the organisation's mailing list. For more information head to the group's website.