A new threat to the RVT’s future

The challenge now facing us – and why we need YOU to help save the UK’s oldest LGBTQ pub and performance venue.

Since winning Grade II listed status last September, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has been thriving – packed to the rafters week in, week out.

But its future is still not secure. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is now under fresh threat from the building’s owners, property developers Immovate.

Immovate are planning to sell the building, calculating the RVT’s value in terms of the cash it can put in their pocket rather than its cultural significance.

RVT Future would like to coordinate a community purchase of the Tavern at a fair price by raising funds to bring it in to community ownership. Unfortunately, discussions with Immovate have stalled as they seek to make as much money as possible from London’s ludicrous property market by selling the Tavern as a “development opportunity”.

But there is something we can do, something you can help with, to get us back in the game.

This is where things get technical…

The Grade II listing we fought for last year protects the fabric of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern – from its iconic frontage to the pillars inside. However, the listing doesn’t protect the way the building is used.

The scope of the current classification would potentially allow the RVT to be sold and converted into an All Bar One or a Wetherspoons.

But there is a way we can stop this happening. RVT Future are now working to add another layer of protection – ‘sui generis’ status. Latin for ‘of its own kind’, this classification would unequivocally specify the RVT’s use as an LGBTQ performance venue.

An Immovate-shaped bump in the road

Our application to Lambeth Council for sui generis status was progressing nicely (pictured above: the application notice put up by the Council). After all, it’s a clear case – everyone knows the Tavern’s been an LBGTQ venue for 50+ years.

But at our meeting with the council to discuss the application, who should turn up unannounced to object but a planning consultant working for the owners! And not just any consultant, but Mark Pender of PPM Planning, which boasts on its website about securing permission to demolish the Lilian Baylis School, a Grade II-listed building barely 300 metres from the RVT, to build luxury flats.

PPM Planning secured planning permission and listed building consent in January 2013 for 149 flats and houses and D1/D2 uses, including the demolition of almost half the listed school.

PPM Planning secured planning permission and listed building consent in January 2013 for 149 flats and houses and D1/D2 uses, including the demolition of almost half the listed school.

Once again, Immovate have upped the stakes. With opposition like this, we need to make the RVT’s sui generis application watertight, encyclopaedic in its scope, and frankly impossible for Lambeth Council to resist.

How you can help us…

A public consultation period opened on Friday 10 June, and will close 21 days later on Friday 1 July.

We need to raise our collective voice as loud as possible during this consultation period. Every Tavern regular has a role to play, every Londoner who wants a diverse city with history, heart and soul.

Lambeth Council are looking for evidence of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern’s continuous use, for at least the last ten years, as an LGBTQ pub and performance space. We need at least one piece of evidence for each month since February 2006 (though older proof is helpful too). Of course we all know the Tavern’s been rocking it since before most of us were born, but the council need to create an unquestionable formal record of this.

What we need from you…

It’s time to delve back into your Facebook photos, emails, pinboards and wallets…

We need to hear from punters, promoters and performers who can testify to the Tavern’s use as a performance space. We want evidence of as many shows as possible over the years. Best of all would be contracts or emails confirming you hired the venue, were paid to perform there or tickets/receipts for events that included performance.

We urgently need the following:

  • Tickets / stubs for shows
  • listings
  • press articles
  • experiences and testimonies – from performers and punters
  • photos of shows
  • videography
  • ticket receipts
  • flyers and promotional materials
  • personal stories backed up with data…

…anything that can we date to a particular month in this ten year period.

Please email your evidence, along with an explanation of your involvement with the Royal Vauxhall Tavern to Rowena Folkes at Lambeth Council – RFolkes@lambeth.gov.uk and make sure you CC in hello@rvt.community before midday on Friday 1 July.

This case number should be included with all submissions: 16/02418/LDCE

Remember, this is a public consultation – so any evidence you submit will be within the public domain.

Together we can create a definitive record of what we all know to be true – that for the last decade and beyond, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has been a fabulous, sweaty, culturally important performance venue and home to the LGBTQ community and its friends, and it deserves to be so far into the future.