It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Read on for the latest news from RVT Future.
RVT FUTURE SO FAR
We’ve achieved a phenomenal amount since Austrian property developers Immovate bought the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in 2014. Though – as we have to remind the press! – the Tavern isn’t ‘saved’ as such, we have fought for and won the following legal protections:
- Grade II listing (the first building to be listed for its LGBTQ+ historical and cultural significance)
- Asset of Community Value
- Sui Generis planning status
- Extension to the Lambeth Conservation Area to include the RVT
These combine to create a powerful web of planning restrictions which, along with the press attention we have garnered, have helped keep the Tavern operating as the unique pub, club, performance venue and home for the LGBTQ+ community we all know and love.
Last November, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern’s existing leaseholder – Vauxhall Tavern London Ltd – signed a new 20-year lease with Immovate. This should lend some stability to the situation, but RVT Future strongly believe that the Tavern is not ‘saved’ until it is owned by the community.
So the situation as it stands is: We don’t trust Immovate with the RVT (they wanted to demolish it and build a hotel!). Immovate have thus far turned down our approaches to buy the Tavern – they are unwilling to engage until we’ve raised enough capital but won’t tell us how much. And even if they would sell to us, our judgement right now is that we’re in need of a big donor or lender to kickstart the campaign, or the full-time leadership and project management capability to run a successful multi-million pound fundraising campaign.
THE SITUATION AS IT STANDS
In March 2017 we raised £30,000 from our incredible community here in London and around the world, to help us launch a buy-out bid for the Tavern.
A proportion of that money has been put to great use; the remainder is still available, to help see this project through to conclusion. You can find the latest financial update on our website here.
So far, as well as the planning restrictions we have secured, we have:
(a) Taken advice on what legal form would best support a community buy-out, and engaged The Community Shares Company Ltd to consult – they are the expert in this field.
(b) Determined that a community benefit society, regulated under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, is the most appropriate vehicle.
(c) Set up a society and drawn up a set of rules for it, and appointed initial directors.
(d) Successfully sought approval of the rules from the relevant regulatory authorities.
The rules and directors of Vauxhall Tavern Community Benefit Society Limited are available via the FCA’s website here.
We are proud to say this means that the legal and regulatory groundwork is now in place for a community buy-out.
A bridging loan or a major early investor would move things forward radically. But neither of those things is going to fall into our lap. And so to bring community ownership into reality, RVT Future needs some fresh blood. The skills and energy of our contributors have taken us a long way, but to launch a community buy-out we need to add fundraising, project management and other skills to the mix. If this sounds like you – and most importantly, you share our passion for the future of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern – we want to hear from you!
WHAT’S NEXT AND HOW YOU CAN HELP
We want to make RVT Future as open, welcoming and transparent as possible. Whether you feel you could join RVT Future in a leadership role, attend an open meeting or just want to share feedback, we’re listening and we can’t wait to hear from you.
The executive committee of RVT Future
Sir Richard Heaton