Online campaign gets 26,000 signs to save it from demolition , Council’s plan panel members noted India Club was a very important cultural institution, had strong historical links with the India League. Also, it made a significant contribution to the cultural diversity and night time entertainment provision in Westminster.
London : The India Club in London, a hub for Indian nationalists in the UK during the Indian Independence movement in the 1930s and 40s, has been saved from demolition after the city council panel refused to give permission to bring the historic building down to make way for a luxury hotel.
Westminster City Council’s planning committee refused permission to Marston Properties, the building’s freeholders, to demolish the Club housed within the Strand Continental Hotel, to build a new luxury hotel.
In a unanimous decision at a planning meeting on Tuesday evening, the committee concluded: The application is considered unacceptable due to the loss of the India Club, an important cultural and night time entertainment use and is accordingly recommended for refusal.
India Club, with its roots in the India League which campaigned for Indian Independence in Britain, had attracted over 26,000 signatures for its online Save India Club petition over the last few months.
The committee members noted India Club was a very important cultural institution, had strong historical links with the India League. They also noted India Club made a significant contribution to the cultural diversity and night time entertainment provision in Westminster, said Phiroza Marker, the manager of India Club.
Earlier, Marker led an application to Historic England for the Club, to be listed as a historically important landmark in an additional bid to prevent its demolition.
While the application was turned down on the grounds there were similar organisations operating for the Indian community at the time, a decision on its appeal is awaited from the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sports.
“The India Club is a constant reminder of Westminster’s multicultural identity and Indo-British friendship. We will continue to campaign for the building’s long-term preservation, including applying to Westminster for its designation as an Asset of Community Value,” added Marker. The Club, an Indian restaurant on The Strand in the heart of London since 1946, is located on the first floor of the 26-room Strand Continental hotel.
Marston Properties, which had put in an application with Westminster City Council for the partial demolition and extension of existing seven-storey building with alterations at ground and basement levels to create a new hotel, refused to comment on the Council’s decision to turn down its application this week.
The application had attracted an unprecedented 26 public appeals against such a move, with the Club being categorised a secret gem and as having unique historical value to Londoners and visitors. Many Indian and UK MPs — Lord Karan Bilimoria and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor — had backed the drive to preserve its legacy with endorsement letters.