After having twice had their proposals thrown out by the Strategic Development Committee, it was inevitable that developers would have to think a little harder about how they altered the proposal, and the future of The Backstreet.
Thanks to letters from supporters and - I like to think - my speeches at the planning meetings, we persuaded the Committee that it was essential to preserve the club, and that a relocation strategy needed to be put in place. As things stand, at the April meeting undertakings were given that the club would have twelve month's notice of work starting on site, and a contribution of £10,000 towards relocation costs. While an improvement on the original offer, that could still spell the end of The Backstreet, given the expense of property in the UK.
And now, they're back. To be honest, I hoped it would take them a bit longer to come up with a new plan. But I never expected this...
The latest revision to the plans, discussed with John and the Backstreet team, provides a far better relocation deal than expected. The club will be moving - but only to the basement. The revised plans provide a space of 243sq metres in the basement, comparable to the size of the existing club.
Entrance will be still be through a ground floor door on Wentworth Mews, a couple of metres from the current doors, and then down the stairs - a lift will also be provided - to the bar itself.
If the plans are agreed - expect them to come before the Committee in August or more likely September - then The Backstreet as we know it will continue for at least another twelve months, and then close shortly before work commences on the new building. We don't know how long that will take, but London could be without a leather bar for up to a year, before the new premises are safe to access and have been fitted out - a topic on which I hope I'll be able to say more over coming months.
The Backstreet's John Edwards has written a letter to the Strategic Development Committee, confirming he is "very pleased with the proposal." In the light of that, I shan't be objecting to it myself, nor do I recommend that others do so this time.
To all intents and purposes, as far as saving The Backstreet goes, I think it's fair to say "We won."
London's oldest leather bar will be reborn as its newest one.