12 Bar and the culture wars : greedy developers – why do we allow THEIR profit to dominate out lives?On Dec 19/20 John Robb’s bands, the Membranes and Goldblade play the 12 Bar in London- what would have been a great weekend in a great venue suddenly seems more urgent as they could be the last gigs at the famous venue that is to shut because of the latest bout of developer greed.


If the bankers were not bad enough what about the property developers?

Creeping gentrification is the blight upon our cities. Hoovering up our city centres with its greed and lack of care or interest in the teaming culture that makes the UK world famous in terms of music and culture.

The closure of the 12 Bar underlines this creeping trend that combines greed and the bland monoculture of the modern UK where a bland coffee chain or yet another concrete block rabbit hutch hotel takes precedence over the very culture that people want to visit the UK for.

It seem utterly bizarre that property developers can just hoover up OUR city centres and impose their ugly developments and dull culture wherever they want.

No-one votes for these people and yet they wield such supreme power. You are a faceless developer and you fancy having a block of prime real state in a city centre to do what you please with? then a few backhanders here and there and its yours. It’s the unelectable in full pursuit of the unrepresented. Where are our politicians when the money bullies come to town? where is Camden council when this is happening?

The city centre should belong to all of us and not to an unchosen few.

It feels like no-one has a voice any more and no matter how much people know the bankers are corrupt and greedy it’s the property developers that the are land thieves with their own agenda.

We saw the same in Manchester with the destruction of the world famous Twisted Wheel, which was turned into a hotel that looks like a KGB office block and now and even worse the 12 Bar is to be closed- not knocked down – but kicked out and turned into something else like a chain bar or something because a punk bar and venue doesn’t fit into THEIR vision of what the area should be.

And then there are the world famous guitar shops on Denmark Street – a really key part of the character of London for decades with a unique history that should be treasured and not trend into a Starbucksland.

The vision seems to be yet another set of posh shops and coffee bars and hotels – dull bland chains that occupy every corner of every city in the UK selling the same stuff to fed up looking people who have no choice. Why have we allowed this to happen? why have let the UK turn itself from a country full of character to a nation of shopping malls and creeping concrete cancer. Why are we letting out city centres be stolen from us by these faceless developers who never even go there and why do we allow THEIR profit to dominate out lives?



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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. It’s truly, truly sad. I’m really pissed about the descision. Have you seen what they’re planning on building there?


    Though I did my own little remix on it :P


    I’m sure campaigning will continue to save the street, however a very clear message is being sent; This city, quite probably this government, doesn’t care about anyone other than those with money and those who make money for them.

    • Another generic vision of the future by the bland and unimaginative, can’t wait to get shopping in the spirit of Denmark street

  2. Where is Camden Council? Leading the parade. Denmark St may be in the city centre, but it’s not central to Camden LBC. It’s right on their boundary. The redevelopment of Denmark St is just part of the story. You should see their plans for Tottenham Court Road.
    What’s fuelling both is Crossrail. When the new Tottenham Court Road Crossrail Station opens, it’s forecast that it will have a greater footfall than the whole of Heathrow. That’s what’s driving the gentrification of this area – and threatening the whole of Soho, not just Denmark St.
    Camden, in their turn, are seeing their budgets being slashed to the bone by George Osborne, and, with $ signs in their eyes, are looking simply at the revenues from the property taxes that are going to come their way when these developments are completed.

  3. please excuse the plug, but this short film captures the last sessions at the Twisted Wheel before the developers moved in.

  4. It.s not just small venues. Earls Court is being sold to developers. httpss://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/davehillblog/2014/dec/15/earls-court-final-curtain-is-sad-reflection-on-boris-johnsons-london?CMP=share_btn_tw


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