‘Friends’ join up with Tower Hamlets to save Joiners’ Arms gay pub

Joiners' Arms in Hackney Road [phorto: Goggle]

Joiners' Arms in Hackney Road [phorto: Goggle] - Credit: Google

Campaigners from the Gay community in London’s East End have won backing from the Town Hall to save their local boozer which has now been declared an “asset of community value”.

The victory came last night—four days after the last pint was pulled at the Joiners Arms when the lease on the premises in Hackney Road, near Shoreditch, finally ran out.

The Friends of the Joiners Arms campaign group—mostly drawn from the Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community—have been told by Tower Hamlets Council that their application for Asset of Community Value status has been approved.

“We were concerned after the council received a barrage of opposing calls from developers and corporate lawyers,” the Friends’ group joint-chair Amy Roberts said.

“We feared the council would be persuaded against giving us this important status.

“But now this precious space is listed as a community asset, we are a step closer to obtaining the Joiners Arms and evolving it into London’s first cooperatively-run Gay community centre.”

They now have the right to bid on the property if it goes on the market. Its Community status could also have an impact on future planning applications.

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A Town Hall spokesman said: “This listed status means an owner cannot sell premises without giving sufficient time for a community group to assemble a competitive bid of its own. It is laid down in the 2011 Localism Act as a way of preserving meeting places which are used for community activity.”

The Joiners Arms is “overflowing with community value”, say campaigners.

Co­-chair Jon Ward said: “We are passionate about the legacy of the Joiners and to create a queer space with inclusivity as its core value.”

The pub is currently on the cards to be flattened, with plans for “another high­-end, soulless apartment block,” says the Friends group. Campaigners are pushing to stop the site becoming “yet another victim of rapid and ruthless gentrification in the East End”.

The pub, which the licensee vacated for good on Sunday, has been used in the past for HIV testing, fundraising, safety liaison sessions with police and debates, as well as being “a safe haven” for victims of discrimination.