Davenport, Latham get behind restoration of Camden Roundhouse

Davenport Lyons

and Latham & Watkins have been assisting pro bono on a non-profit scheme to restore the iconic Camden Roundhouse arts venue.

The Grade II listed Victorian building, originally built as a tram shed, reopened three weeks ago as the first stage of a £29m refurbishment. The venue has previously hosted music legends including Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Pink Floyd, but closed in 1983 following financial difficulties.

Davenport Lyons assisted with the venue’s latest licence applications and other legal issues. Partner Alun Thomas, head of the liquor, gaming and entertainment licensing department, led a team from the firm.

Latham has also been providing pro bono assistance on the scheme since 2000, advising on the fundraising programme and on tax and property issues. London associate and pro bono head Philip Watkins coordinated the firm’s involvement.

Thomas explained that Davenport Lyons’ involvement followed the firm’s assistance with the Roundhouse’s original licence application in 2004 on a traditional fees basis.

“At first, there was considerable local objection concerning potential disturbance in the local area, particularly because the venue had been closed for a while,” said Thomas.

“We proposed and negotiated stringent operating conditions relating to the type and frequency of event that could be carried out and the Roundhouse Trust was able to win the confidence of local residents through extended dialogue.”

However, the venue was forced to make a second application after the new Licensing Act 2003 came into force in November 2005, making the earlier provisional license redundant.

“I decided to do it [the second licence application pro bono] because of the personalities involved, including the chairman Torquil Norman, and the way that the project helps young people,” said Thomas.

The reopened venue is now the third-largest performing arts centre in North London, after Alexandra Palace and Wembley Stadium, and expects some 500,000 visitors a year.

The venue also contains the Roundhouse Studios, which provide a creative environment and facilities for young people age 13 to 18 to get experience in the arts alongside artists, professionals and their peers.

Fundraising toward the £29m target continues.