London venue Heaven in jeopardy while facing £320,000 rent increase

The famed LGBTQIA+ venue Heaven is facing closure following a £320,000 rent increase.

The owners of the London venue have entered into an arbitration dispute with their landlord, The Arch Company, following a drastic rent increase – a shift that has put the famous venue under threat.

According to a report by the BBC, the dispute arose as a result of The Arch Company requesting an additional £240,000 per year increase – a figure which comes following another rise of £80,000 that was requested in September 2023.

The owners have since shared how the hiked fees have put the venue in jeopardy, and insisted that they have been forced “to go public” with the dispute to highlight the pressures faced by live music venues and entertainment spaces.

“If you wonder why so many venues are closing. If you wonder why we are losing more LGBT Venues. Look no further than LANDLORDS,” read a post by the club’s founder and G-A-Y owner Jeremy Joseph.

“We have been fighting them for five months and they aren’t willing to back down,” the post continued. “It’s time to put public pressure on Landlords, this isn’t just about Heaven, this is about every hospitality venue because if our rent goes up, it will increase the rent of other venues because in arbitration, they use other comparable rents to value yours.”

The arbitration process should enable both the owners of the venue and the landlords to reach an agreement without having to go to court. That being said, Joseph has claimed that the process has cost the venue just shy of “£10k in legal fees” already.

Responding to the owners speaking out about the pressures faced due to the rent increase, a spokesperson for The Arch Company said a statement with Mixmag.

“Heaven is a long-term and valued customer and we have been working closely with them to reach an agreement on the market rent for their premises,” they said. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to agree this between ourselves and so an independent third party has now been appointed to help resolve.”

The current threat of closure facing Heaven comes in light of Joseph being forced to close G-A-Y due to another rental dispute and “several external pressures (via Time Out).

Following the news of its closure, Night Time Industries (NTIA) CEO Michael Kill described the situation as a “profound loss for the LGBTQ community in the capital”.

According to a report by the BBC, over half of all LGBTIA+ venues in London have been forced to close between the period of 2006 and 2022. It also comes as a report was published by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) last month, showing the “disaster” that struck the UK’s grassroots music venues in 2023.

Among the key findings was that 2023 was the “most challenging year” yet, and 125 UK venues abandoned live music, while over half of them had shut entirely – including the legendary Moles in Bath. Some of the more pressing constraints were reported as soaring energy prices, landlords increasing rate amounts, supply costs, business rates, licensing issues, noise complaints and the continuing shockwaves of COVID-19.

Alice Glass of Crystal Castles performing to an audience of cheering fans at Heaven nightclub London.
Alice Glass of Crystal Castles performing to an audience of cheering fans at Heaven nightclub London. (Photo by Naki/Redferns/Getty Images)

It came after the stark warning that the UK was set to lose 10 per cent of its grassroots music venues in 2023, the MVT and others from the sector ended the year by telling NME how 2023 was the “worst year for venue closures” while “no one in music industry seems to care”.

The news of Heaven facing closure also comes just one day after the UK music industry called on the government to slash VAT on concert tickets to help ensure the sector’s survival.

Tom Kiehl, UK Music’s Interim Chief Executive, asked Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to use his Budget next Wednesday (March 6) to lower the current 20 per cent VAT rate on tickets to 10 per cent as a “boost for consumers, music professionals and venues”.

Currently, music fans in the UK must pay 20 per cent VAT on their tickets – almost double the EU average (10.3 per cent), and around triple the rate in countries like Belgium (six per cent) and Germany (seven per cent).


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