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Black Cap must be cabaret venue, council planners rule

Campaigners are still working on a possible community buyout bid.

15 July, 2019 — By Dan Carrier

ONE of London’s most famous LGBT+ nightspots – which stands locked up in Camden Town – must reopen as a cabaret venue and not be turned into a pub, according to a council ruling.

The Black Cap in Camden High Street has been shut since 2015, with regulars holding vigils outside the boarded-up building every weekend in a bid to persuade its owners to reopen it as it was. Amid negotiations about a possible new operator, council planners have now issued a unique planning classification for the site that says it must be used for “a cabaret, dance venue, club, bar, community space and a public house”.

Faucet Inn, which bought the pub and has so far failed in attempts to win permission to convert upper floors into flats, had been looking for its status to be clarified simply as a public house.

Any new owners now face being pinned to providing a cabaret-style club.

Campaigners are still working on a possible community buyout bid.

Camden’s ruling said: “None of the submitted evidence substantiates the cabaret dance bar as ancillary to the public house use or that there are two separate planning units, namely the bar at first floor and cabaret dance bar at ground floor.”

Faucet Inn’s Steve Cox told the New Journal in January he needed the pub status to begin drawing up new plans for the building and possibly complete advanced talks with an interested operator.

The venue, however, remains closed. Evidence had been presented to the Town Hall by more than 50 former customers, staff and performers, who want the Black Cap to be as close to how it was.

Jamie Johnston, from the Black Cap Foundation campaign group, said: “This was another attempt in a long line of attempts to make the Black Cap something it is not, and again they have discovered that we, the council and the community, are not going to let this happen.  We are delighted that Camden Council has affirmed what London’s LGBT+ community knows: that the Black Cap site must be used, from cellar to chimney tops, to support the social and cultural activities that we all need. It should have been clear a long time ago, and be even clearer now.”

Mr Johnston added: “We do not believe this venue should now reopen on a lease of 10 to 15 years to a pub operator. If the community [wants] to own the building we would be able to protect it forever and run it on a non-profit basis.”

Owner Mr Cox did not respond to requests for comment this week.

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