New LGBT space to replace former Southwark gay club XXL by 2022 after development row

Josh Salisbury (10 January, 2020)

However the new venue will not be like XXL - which had catered specifically to gay 'bears'

34156What is expected to replace the current venue under approved plans (Image: Native Land)

A new LGBT space will open in a Bankside development hit by a backlash over the closure of the gay club, XXL.

The club, catering the gay subculture of ‘bears’, had its last night operating in its Pulse premises in Sampson and Ludgate Houses just off Southwark Street in September.

It had lost a court appeal against the start of the development, sparking recriminations about the loss of LGBT nightlife in the borough.

Nearly six thousand people signed a petition calling for the venue to be saved.

Now council officials say they have signed an agreement with the site owners that a new LGBT space will form part of the development – but that it will not be a club exactly like XXL.

A protest banner made during the furore over XXL’s closure

“We always said that we would make sure the new development offered a space for our LGBTQ+ community,” said Tooley Street’s Cllr Johnson Situ.

“While the new space will not be a like for like replacement, this agreement ensures it will provide a safe place for people to meet, socialise and celebrate the diverse LGBTQ+ population in our borough.”

The move was welcomed by Borough and Bankside ward councillor Victor Chamberlain, who has campaigned on protection of LGBT spaces in the borough, alongside fellow ward councillor David Noakes.

“We suggested the Council should agree a memorandum of understanding or put this into any agreements the developer makes with Southwark Council,” he said.

“I’m encouraged the developers have agreed to do so and hope this will ensure our local and diverse LGBTQ+ community can continue to grow and thrive.”

The new space is scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2022.

The new occupiers of the space will be expected to provide a “safe and inclusive place to meet and socialise,” promote wellbeing and support vulnerable members of the LGBT community.

However, Cllr Chamberlain also urged both town hall and city hall officials to do more to protect LGBT spaces, which have come under threat in recent years.

A report published in 2017 revealed that the capital had lost 58 per cent of its LGBT venues since 2006, having been forced out by spiralling rents.

The Bankside Yards redevelopment will see a mix of shops, offices, housing and venues. XXL is now operating in other venues across the country.

Cyril winter says:

Why was the club treated like it was
Is XXL being offered tge space
Why was the club not protected by the council in the first place

Jonathan Goldsmith says:

So a club that was thr ONLY venue catering for yhe over 30s in London, and hosted several thousand of socialising , drinking and dancing guys of all ages and sizes, to top DJs, in a brilliant music and club environment, open til 4am, is going to be “replaced” with EXACTLY what?? And financed and run by WHO???
Perhaps it is Southwark Coincil, Lame Amy the Night Tsar who has slept in her pit throughout this, and Sadiq Can’t, who should all be “replaced” with a Dyson Cleaner! Sucking the life out of London!!

Marlon says:

The club wasn’t protected by the council simply because they saw opportunity to make more money than what they were making. I almost feel like the LGBT community just about have a place in this world. Everything seems to be a fight now and it really don’t have to be.

Benjamin Hargrave says:

I agree with the comments above – this is another important space – taken away from us – the fate of which is being decided by the extremely wealthy and, who knows what the makeup of the developers is but I would hazard a guess at, mostly heterosexual, cis, white people? This becomes a space “by permission” offering what is acceptable to the developer and the council, not a space by and for a marginalised community who have occupied it joyfully for a long time. We have ultimately been pushed out by force because people prefer a heteronormative and wealthy ideal, offering a space for the kinds of gays they prefer, than a rough and ready reality of extremely hard fought identity freedom.

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