Lambeth Council’s sub-committee granted the license to Bloc South, the latest venture by stalwart gay club owner Wayne Shires on Vauxhall Triangle, on 31 January, after many Lambeth residents supported its application in spite of numerous objections.
Licensing lawyer Andrew Wong of Keystone Law said: “The grant of the new licence is fantastic news for the LGBTQ community, particularly following the closure of so many iconic venues in recent times.”
Opposing authorities cited Lambeth Council’s 'Hours Policy' at the hearing, which dictates new nightclubs close no later than 2am.
Policy applied flexibly
But the committee conceded, given the individual circumstances and the level of support from local residents, that the policy could be applied flexibly and that, in the case of Bloc South, it was prepared to make an exception.
Lord Brian Paddick, the former Police Borough Commander of Lambeth and candidate for London Mayor, wrote in support of the application: “The sub-committee will be aware of trends in the LGBTQ community in recent years, including the closing of many LGBTQ venues in London in general and south London in particular."
He added: “There has also been a move to arranging to meet people ‘online’ with the inherent dangers associated with not meeting in a neutral location first.
“In my opinion, there is a real need for ‘safe spaces’ for members of the LGBTQ community to meet and socialise and I believe Wayne’s application is timely and desirable.”
Earlier this month, Lambeth Council granted iconic gay pub the Royal Vauxhall Tavern mixed use (sui generis) classification, meaning potential developers would have to fight for planning permission to change its use.