We want the Royal Vauxhall Tavern to be the nation’s first building to be listed in recognition of its importance to LGBTQ community history.
(UPDATE: On September 9 2015, we succeeded in reaching that goal!)
Because we think the RVT is such a unique and indispensable part of our country’s LGBTQ history, we want it to become a listed building – so we’ve applied to English Heritage to add it to the national register of buildings of special architectural and historic importance.
English Heritage are now investigating our claim. If things go well, it will become the first building the country recognised for its part in our community’s story.
Being listed would give the building some protection against the current wave of high-end residential development to which so many of London’s independent cultural venues are falling prey.
Our 15,000-word application was written by Ben Walters (who blogs at NotTelevision.net and has covered the RVT here and here) and has been endorsed by the Vauxhall Society. English Heritage have also received another application to list the Tavern originating outside our campaign.
We cannot take anything for granted but we think our application makes a very strong case. It discusses the Tavern’s cultural and architectural links to the historic Vauxhall pleasure gardens, its status as the UK’s oldest continually operating LGBTQ venue, and its rich post-war history of drag performance and community activism.
Read our 10 reasons to love the RVT to get the gist of the contents of the application.
After their investigation – which could take until summer – English Heritage will make a recommendation to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, who will ultimately decide whether to list the RVT.
Please note there’s no point lobbying English Heritage or DCMS: listings are decided purely on the merits of the application, not on public support.
Some have expressed concerns that a listing is a backward or naive step that disregards commercial realities. We disagree. The Tavern’s chief executive, for instance, doesn’t support our bid, but we don’t think he needs to worry, as is explained here.
The listing process fully recognises how important it is for a building to be kept in use after designation. And a listing doesn’t mean that changes can’t be made to a building.
It simply recognises that a building has special architectural, historical or cultural merit, and means that if an owner wants to carry out work that would compromise those qualities, they have to convince planning authorities the trade-off is worthwhile.
Being listed would not prevent the Tavern being improved, opening for more of the week, or making better use of its location and its place in the community. It would be no bar to profitability. Rather, it would enable those who truly believe in its future to invest in it with confidence.
The same applies to our successful application to have the Tavern recognised by Lambeth Council as an asset of community value.
We will keep you updated as the application progresses.
(UPDATE: On September 9 2015, we succeeded in making the RVT a listed building!)