The planning appeal for redevelopment of Backstreet started, long time followers of the saga may remember, back in January. It was scheduled for five days, then adjourned until 15th May, when two extra days were set aside to finish things up.
I attended on Wednesday 15th May, to speak about the importance of the club; I didn’t stay for the whole of the day - a lot of what was being discussed was of a pretty detailed technical and/or legal nature, and would not make the most riveting reading.
The chair of the meeting kindly let me speak early on in the day. I’ve previously made a number of submissions, one of which can be viewed at this link.
I stressed how important it is that we have spaces, like The Backstreet, where people can wear gear and not feel unusual or the odd person out; how the pressures of rents and wages have made other venues relax their dress code, and the effect that can have, when a place becomes more of a late night drinks venue than a dress code club, with the original patrons feeling left out.
I highlighted the fact that 20 to 30 years ago in London, we had multiple venues catering to the people who now use Backstreet - like The Hoist, The Anvil, The Market Tavern, The Block and The Coleherne, all now gone. The Backstreet is the sole survivor, and if one wants to find a similar place to go, the closest venue that I can think of is The Boots in Antwerp - hardly somewhere for just a night out from London.
While welcoming the idea of reproviding the club in the basement of a new building, I did express concerns, that if redevelopment is to happen, it’s important that the club is not set up to fail.
My piece said, there were a couple of questions from the Chair about proposed restrictions - which I didn’t view as too onerous. And that was it.
Now, we have to wait. The latest information I have is that a decision will be made on or before the 9th of August. As soon as I know more, I’ll obviously provide an update.
A couple of weeks ago, Backstreet celebrated its 34th birthday, and given the notice period to which the developers have committed, it seems almost certain that next year we shall be celebrating its 35th.
Thanks to all who have written over the course of this planning application, at every stage. Whatever the final result, it’s good to know we can come together so strongly. Unity, as the Style Council said, is powerful.