George Tavern

Courts protect famous music pub in landmark victory

By Oli Gross contact

- Last updated on GMT

Courts protect famous music pub in landmark victory

Related tags: Music venue, Nightclub

A famous live music pub has won a legal battle against the development of nearby block of flats, in a decision which has been hailed as a landmark victory for grassroots music venues.

The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the George Tavern, Stepney, east London, by overturning a planning decision to allow new flats to be built in close proximity to the venue. 

Licensee Pauline Forster claimed the flats would lead to noise complaints from new neighbours, while the loss of sunlight would affect a photoshoot business in the upstairs of the pub.


She said: “I am relieved and happy that the judges have recognised the importance of the historic George Tavern, a local pub, live music venue, film, fashion and art shoot location, and my home.

“I have battled tirelessly over nine years for something I truly love and believe in. And I will continue to do so. May the light shine through and live music live on.”

Campaigners have hailed the victory as a landmark moment for traditional live music venues in London, which they claimed can be forced to close due to the risk of noise complaints from new-builds.

Victory for music community

James Ketchell, chief executive of Music Heritage UK, who has been supporting the campaign and set up a 3,000 strong petition, said: “This is a huge victory for the entire live music community in London and for grassroots campaigning.

“It’s now time for the developers to do the right thing, realise they should cut their losses, and scrap these inappropriate plans.”

Last year the PMA ​united the industry with its Make Some Noise ​campaign, successfully lobbying Government to protect established pubs and bars threatened with closure due to noise complaints. Planning guidance now urges developers to install soundproofing in new-builds near music venues.

Photography business

The George Tavern won its case partly on the judgement the proposed flats would jeopardise the photography business, which has hosted photoshoots with film stars such as Tilda Swinton and Adrien Brody, as the only natural light source onto the first and second-storey landings and historic staircase would have been lost.

Profits from this business pay the mortgage, subsidise the live music venue and fund the ongoing restoration of the 600-year-old Grade II-listed building based in Stepney, East London, which has been mentioned by both Charles Dickens and Geoffrey Chaucer.

Barrister Annabel Graham Paul said: “This judgment shows the courts really are prepared to protect grassroots music venues in London and warns planners not to take a one-size-fits-all approach.

“Pauline Forster has battled tirelessly to save the George Tavern and this is a fantastic result for her and for grassroots music venues further afield too.”

Battle not over

Campaigners against the development fear further legal appeals may lie ahead, as the disputes have been ongoing for nearly a decade.

The campaign was backed by Justin Timberlake, Kate Moss and Georgia May Jagger and Ian McKellen.

Related topics: Licensing law

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