The decision in the planning appeal regarding redevelopment of The Backstreet has been published today (Friday 9th August). The developers appealed against the council's decision not to grant planning permission.
So, the council’s decision has been upheld and the redevelopment of The Backstreet, and the rest of the site, will not be permitted to go ahead. Theoretically, it is possible that the developers could ask for a judicial review, but given that the council, the Mayor of London, and the Planning Inspectorate have all decided against them, that would seem quite unlikely.
The screenshots attached to this news article contain some extracts from the report - and it’s clear that the Planning Inspector was not convinced by the undertakings made regarding The Backstreet.
Thanks are doubtless due not just to the people within the community who registered their objections, but to the council officers, in particular, Ms Gawne, whose ‘Proof of Evidence’ is available on the Tower Hamlets development portal.
This is a long document, but the part from page 50 (sections 9.61 to 9.118) provide a comprehensive argument for the retention of the club, including its importance to the leather community. To me, this shows the importance of making the representations we did, throughout the planning process. It is a well argued case, made by a public servant, for retaining an LGBT venue on its merit - something that would probably have been unimaginable twenty years ago.
Honestly, no one knows. The future of The Backstreet is safe, for the time being. As mentioned above, it’s unlikely the developers will spend yet more money on a judicial review of the appeal.
They may - and very probably will - come back with an alternative development proposal. It’s worth remembering once again the timeline if they do. The current proposal was first exhibited in the autumn of 2013, six years ago. It took almost three years for the proposal to be turned into a planning application, and a further three years for that to reach its conclusion.
Planning is, as we’ve said before, a slow process. We will, of course, keep an eye on what happens next, and stand ready to fight once again if it’s necessary.
In the meantime, see you at Backstreet.