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Can You Plan A Way Out Of Birmingham's Gay Village Property Disputes?

Gay Pride Flag

Could the planning rows that have blighted attempts to build apartments in Birmingham’s gay village be avoided?

Can the call of a wild night out be reconciled with residents’ desire for a quiet evening in?

A new toolkit from an LGBT planning group and law firm Fieldfisher is intended to help, and comes at a time when help is very much needed as tensions mount.

Birmingham City Council is still pondering plans from the Gooch Estate, which wants to build 116 apartments at Kent Street, Birmingham. That is despite objections from neighbours the Medusa Lodge, a lap-dancing venue, and Birmingham's venerable gay nightclub The Nightingale.

The most recent effort to resolve the dispute, with sealed apartment windows and adopting the new 'agent of change' protection for existing uses, was withdrawn before city planners had a chance to consider it.

Simultaneously concerns are growing that the 150-acre Rea Valley plans will endanger gay village venues as part of plans to build 5,000 new homes in an inner city green corridor.

Planning Out and Fieldfisher have published an LGBT+ Place-Making Toolkit. It is billed as a comprehensive guide on using the planning system to preserve the unique characteristics of LGBT+ spaces and areas.

Planning Out is a 500-strong group of LGBT planning industry professionals.

The toolkit is intended to build on the findings of a 2017 study by UCL Urban Laboratory, which found that in the previous 10 years alone, 58% of London's LGBT+ clubs, bars and performance spaces had closed, dropping from 125 to 53.

Planning Out hopes that by providing guidance on how planning regulations can be used to protect LGBT+ venues from closure or redevelopment, and to support the temporary use of spaces for LGBT+ -friendly activities, these areas can continue to form an important part of the social framework of communities.

"As planners we believe that the planning system and the built environment are vital for providing safe and engaging spaces where LGBT+ people can be themselves and celebrate who they are,” Fieldfisher planning partner Yohanna Weber said.

You can read the document here.