Native Land, in partnership with the Greater London Authority and Southwark Council has launched a search for an operator to develop the concept for, and run, an LGBTQ+ cultural space within two historic railway arches at Bankside Yards in Southwark. The Request for Proposals (RfP) will run for a three-month period, concluding on 13 October 2023.
The cultural space is being delivered to ensure that a prominent space is retained for the use of the LGBTQ+ community as the 5.5 acre Bankside Yards development on London’s South Bank moves forward. The project is being delivered in consultation with the Southwark LGBT Network, the GLA, and a cross-party group of local councillors that includes Southwark Council Leader, Cllr Kieron Williams.
Interested operators are invited to submit proposals that will create a cultural amenity for the LGBTQ+ community based on a 10–25-year lease of the space. The arches have potential to accommodate a range of uses, from performance to cultural gatherings, workshops and events, however, it is not intended for the venue to have a late-night license.
A specially convened panel will evaluate proposals based on their viability as a business and their strategic value to the LGBTQ+ community in London, with a view to select a creative concept that will provide a lasting focus for the LGBTQ+ community in Bankside, Southwark and across London.
The panel members are:
- Andrew Locke, Executive Director – Native Land
- Oliver Nutt – Development Surveyor – Native Land
- Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Communities, Democracy & Finance – Southwark Council
- Cllr Victor Chamberlain, Leader – Southwark Liberal Democrats
- Rachael Roe, Senior Culture Officer – Greater London Authority
- Nathan Lewis, Chair – Southwark LGBT Network
Site visits for interested parties to view the arches will be held in July, with the dates and times advertised at www.banksidelgbtq.co.uk
The LGBTQ+ cultural use will benefit from the footfall generated by the remaining twelve arches on the site, which will be converted into retail, leisure and food & beverage units. Native Land will open up new pedestrian routes through the viaduct to create better, walkable, links between the South Bank and Bankside.
The £2.5 billion Bankside Yards project will deliver a sustainable, mixed-use community on one of the last undeveloped sites on the banks of the Thames in Central London. When it is complete, Bankside Yards will deliver 8 new buildings with more than 350,000 sq ft of offices, 50,000 sq ft of amenities, bars, restaurants and cultural space.
In July 2023, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced that it would open its third London hotel at Bankside Yards in 2028. More than 700 new homes will be built, including for private sale and rent, with on-site affordable housing and a financial contribution of at least £65 million to Southwark Council to deliver new housing across the borough.
Alasdair Nicholls, Chief Executive of Native Land, said:
“Our vision for Bankside Yards will deliver a truly mixed-use neighbourhood, connecting cultural uses with world-class businesses, a range of new homes, and both independent and global retail and hospitality brands.
“The delivery of the LGBTQ+ space within the renovated railway arches ensures this important community continues to be a part of the area, with the potential to provide the diverse opportunities for art, culture and support that help Bankside thrive.”
Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Communities, Democracy & Finance at Southwark Council, said:
“This new LGBTQ+ cultural centre presents a fantastic future venue for the borough and for London. Southwark has a proud history of LGBTQ+ allyship, reflected in the fact that we have the fourth largest lesbian, gay and bisexual community in the country, and the fifth largest transgender community. We must continue to provide unwavering support and fantastic services for our LGBTQ+ residents in Southwark and across the city.
“We’re delighted that one of our prominent development partners is working with us to launch this flagship space that will be a haven to the LGBTQ+ community. I cannot wait to see what exciting offers, plans and ambitions may come forward for the use of this stunning and vast space by Blackfriars station.”