Proposal for more than 100 homes above all-night fetish club were rejected last year

Plans by Mountford Pigott to build 114 homes above a fetish nightclub which stays open until 7.30am on weekends have been approved on appeal.

The scheme for Big Yellow Storage company (BGY) in Poplar had been rejected by Tower Hamlets council in September last year over fears of rowdy behaviour spilling out of the club at night and disturbing residents.

BGY launched an appeal in January this year, which has now been allowed by the government-appointed planning inspector despite the council’s continued fears of noise emanating from the basement venue.

The plans, which will see the construction of a part five- and part eight-storey building at 60-70 & 100 The Highway and 110 Pennington Street, were given the boot last year despite the planning officer’s recommendation to approve it.

Mountford Wapping 1

How the scheme will look when built

They contain a replacement premises for E1, a nightclub which has become a hub for LGBTQ+, kink and sex-positive events in recent years, along with a self-storage block.

The 1,600-capacity venue, which was listed as the 45th best nightclub in the world by monthly magazine DJ Mag earlier this year, has hosted events with established promoters including Klub Verboten, Pxssy Palace and Torture Garden, according to a council report.

While the council said it was important to protect the venue, the largest of its kind in the borough, as an LGBTQ+ cultural asset, it took issue with how the scheme had been designed and BGY’s decision to locate the club beneath the residential block instead of the self-storage.

The council said it had advised BGY in pre-application talks to position the club beneath the self-storage block, but this had been ignored by the firm.

“That advice was not only not followed, but neither the [design and access statement] nor any other application document sets out an option illustrating any alleged constraints which would mean that the Council’s recommended configuration would be unfeasible,” the council said.

BGY argued that following the council’s advice would have meant losing one level of self-storage, although the firm admitted there would be no business continuity issues.

The inspector concluded that the proposals should be allowed if it includes a noise mitigation scheme.

The site is close to the grade I-listed St George in the East Church, the grade I-listed Tobacco Dock and the grade II-listed Pennington Street Warehouses.

A council report said last year said the cultural significance of the venue was illustrated by a protest which took place outside Tower Hamlets town hall last July against a proposed “no-nudity” condition which had been applied to the venue. An application to the council’s licensing sub-committee received one written objection and 203 letters of support from the public, and the condition was removed.

Torture Garden describes itself as the world’s largest monthly fetish club and offers patrons a range of themed areas to explore, including a sex dungeon, wrestling rings and ‘dogging’ areas with real cars.

It has a famously strict dress code, which bans all denim, t-shirts, leggings, suits and “cheap and cheesy fancy dress”.