Councillors in Westminster have refused permission for the owners of The Yard bar in Soho to dig out the basement and build luxury flats. In a move that will delight opponents of the ongoing gentrification of the area, the councillors decided the application should be rejected on the grounds of historical interest and importance to the local community and wider city.

As So So Gay reported in January, The Yard is a popular venue for both its LGBT patrons and the many workers in and around Soho. Built in the 1880s, it is the last publicly accessible Victorian stable yard, and campaigners said the plans would represent an unacceptable ‘mutilation’ of its character.

Westminster City Council’s planning committee chairman, Cllr Andrew Smith said: ‘The evidence is compelling and we need to take heed of the objections raised by English Heritage and conserve this structure. It is an important aspect of Soho, it has historical interest, not only locally but for the wider city and beyond.’

He pointed out that objections were received from as far as New Zealand and Argentina, as well as from fire and police authorities in London, and that a site visit by the committee revealed the huge value the site has, despite it not yet being listed. He added that ‘the venue should be kept not only for Westminster, but also for the whole world.’