Mayor backs campaign to save Royal Vauxhall Tavern

24 June 2016

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has thrown his weight behind a campaign to protect one of the capital’s oldest surviving and most iconic LGBT+ venues and prevent any change of use by developers.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) is a long standing focal point for London’s LGBT+ community. It was bought by developers in 2014 and became the first LGBT+ listed building in 2015. Yet plans for the future of the venue remain unclear. The Mayor is calling for a special planning designation for the Tavern which would ensure its use as an LGBT+ performance space is preserved. The designation ‘sui generis’ has been requested by community campaign group RVT Future who are asking anyone with evidence of the venue’s use for LGBT performance to contact Lambeth Council, which will help to strengthen their application.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Protecting London’s LGBT+ venues is an integral part of my plans to grow London’s cultural sector – one of my core priorities as Mayor. For more than half a century, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has been an icon of LGBT+ performance, helping members of an often vulnerable community to take pride in their identity, and enriching London as a whole.

“The recent tragedy in Orlando is a terrible reminder that the struggle for acceptance amongst the LGBT+ community is ongoing. And London’s response to the tragedy, where communities congregated in and around LGBT+ venues to show their solidarity demonstrates how crucial venues like the Royal Vauxhall Tavern are to the city’s social and cultural infrastructure. I commend RVT Future for the work they’ve done in their campaign to date and I urge Lambeth Council to do everything it can to help the Tavern to continue to thrive as an LGBT+ destination.”

Growing the capital’s cultural and creative industries is one of the Mayor’s ‘core’ priorities. This includes a pledge to protect the city’s music and LGBT+ venues using planning powers, introducing an ‘Agent of Change’ principle to protect existing venues and residents from the effects of local redevelopments, and strengthening the London Plan. The Mayor is also set to appoint a Night Czar to champion and safeguard the capital’s vital cultural assets.

The Mayor has made his support for the Grade II listed tavern clear in a letter to the Leader of Lambeth Council, Lib Peck.

Amy Lamé, Chair of RVT Future: "The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is irreplaceable. We're thrilled to have Sadiq's support and we urge any other friends of the RVT to submit evidence to the council. This will help us resist the property developers and, we hope, eventually bring the RVT into community ownership.”

The Mayor has long supported the campaign to save the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, including hosting an LGBT+ fundraising event at the venue. This weekend he will join the capital’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities at the London Pride event.


Notes to editors

  1. The Mayor is backing an application to grant the Royal Vauxhall Tavern a planning class use of ‘sui generis’, in recognition of its longstanding use as a site of LGBT+ performance. The planning application, which has been submitted to the council by campaign group RVT Future, follows years of lobbying to save the venue from being sold off or changed by developers. Being granted a ‘sui generis’ would designate the RVT as an LGBT+ performance space.
  2. Royal Vauxhall Tavern

Built around 1860, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in south London may be the oldest continually operating LGBT+ community venue in the UK. It has been a venue for LGBT+ performance and socialising since the post-war years. The RVT is the first building in the nation to be listed for its place in LGBT+ history and heritage. To find out more, visit

  1. RVT Future

Around a quarter of London’s LGBT+ venues, and many other independent cultural spaces have closed down over the past couple of decades. RVT Future is a group of performers, promoters and punters seeking to ensure a thriving future for the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the UK's oldest LGBT+ pub and performance venue. In 2015, the group succeeded in making the RVT the UK's first LGBT+ listed building. It hopes to bring the venue into community ownership. To find out more, visit

  1. Sui Generis is a separate planning Use Class specifically designed for activities which do not fall within standard use classes, e.g. shops, offices or drinking establishments. Sui generis uses have much more limited permitted development rights for changing use, so if granted by the local planning authority, this could prevent the use of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern being changed use through permitted development rights which normally apply to pubs.
  2. Agent of Change – Under agent of change principles, if a cultural venue is in place before a residential development, the new development – as the ‘agent of change’ - is responsible for militating any potential noise impacts or the potential for complaints from new residents, for example by paying for soundproofing. Equally, if a cultural venue, as the ‘agent of change’ opens in a residential area, the venue is responsible for these works.


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