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London gay sauna Chariots Waterloo is set to be demolished

By Will Stroude

London gay sauna Chariots Waterloo is set to be demolished after the local council approved plans to turn the site into a new hotel.

The venue’s days appear numbered after Lambeth Council unanimously approved the planning application at a meeting last night on Tuesday night (April 4), local media outlet London SE1 reports.

The all-male spa and sauna on Lower Marsh – one of London’s oldest – occupies the second floor of a commercial development that is set to be turned into a 66-room hotel, designed by architect Architect Scott Kyson.

The news means the venue could soon become the fourth Chariots sauna to close in London in the last five years, leaving Chariots Vauxhall as the company’s sole remaining branch.

London SE1 reports that committee member Cllr Nigel Haselden praised the scheme for its “very welcome removal of a negative contributor to the street” – though it is unknown whether he was referring to Chariots Waterloo or the site as a whole.

Chariots management could not be reached for comment, but an employee at the Waterloo venue told Attitude that a new lease was recently signed for a year and over.

The impending demolition of Chariots Waterloo comes as rising rents and private development continues to put the squeeze on London’s historic gay scene, and comes less than a week after the closure of popular Soho drag and cabaret pub Molly Moggs.

Other LGBT venues to close for good in the last few years alone include The Black Cap in Camden, The Joiner’s Arms in Hackney, Vauxhall’s Barcode, The George and Dragon in Shoredtich, and Soho hotspots Shadow Lounge, Manbar, Madame Jojo’s and The Green Carnation.

Related: ‘Perhaps the time for gay saunas to close has come – and that’s fine’

Last November, London Mayor Sadiq Khan appointed queer activist and performer Amy Lamé as night czar fopr the capital, with many people hoping that her influence will help to slow the decline of the city’s LGBT+ scene.

It’s not all bad news though, this month has also seen the opening of a brand new LGBT venue south of the river in Vauxhall

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London’s top 10 gay bars revealed
‘Gay saunas come with stigma, but people are often pleasantly surprised’