© Ewan Munro
Update: the owners appealed to have the ‘Asset of Community Value’ status revoked, but on March 26, Tower Hamlets overruled them and the Joiners’ lives on as a community asset!
But Tower Hamlets council overruled the appeal stating that the site could still serve the interests of the community as the Joiners Arms has done in the past.
As we reported back in November, legendary and long-serving east London gay bar The Joiners Arms was due to shut this month (to make way for more boring flats, obviously). Today is the last day of their lease, following a closing party at the weekend – but at the last minute there’s been some good news. After lobbying by the Friends of the Joiners Arms campaign group, Tower Hamlets council have awarded the pub ‘asset of community value status’.
That means that, once the Joiners is put up for sale, the Friends group will have some time to come up with a bid to buy the pub. If they succeed, then they’re planning to turn it into a a co-operative centre for the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, Queer and Intersex) community, which will host debates, discussions and events. (And the odd party too, we hope.)
In 2013, The Ivy House in Nunhead became London’s first co-operatively owned pub as a result of ACV listing. It’s now a thriving and hugely valued destination for the local community – so this approach can really work. The Friends of the Joiners Arms will be putting together a business and fundraising plan: there’ll be more news soon on how supporters can help.
For now, we’re just glad that the Joiners has won a stay of execution. After the victory over development on the New Era Estate, it’s another example of how organised campaigns by local groups can fight back against the forces that are turning London into a dystopian city of luxury glass cubes.
By James Manning