The India Club in London that dates back to the Indian independence movement in the 1930s and 40s was recently saved from being torn down. This comes after the panel of the Westminster City Council refused to give permission to the Marston Properties in order to build a luxury hotel. According to a PTI report, the building freeholders Marston Properties wanted to bring the historic building down Clubhouse that is located within the Strand Continental Hotel, to build a new luxury hotel.
The decision to save the Club was unanimous and was taken at a planning meeting on Tuesday evening. It was then that the panel of the Westminster City Council concluded that “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.”
Phiroza Marker, the manager of India Club, while talking about the whole situation said, “The Committee members noted that India Club was a very important cultural institution, which had strong historical links with the India League. They also noted that India Club made a significant contribution to the cultural diversity and night time entertainment provision in Westminster.”
He added, “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.”
Marker in the past had led an application to Historic England for the India Club in order to get it listed as a historically important landmark in an additional bid to prevent its demolition. However, the application was turned down on the grounds that there were similar organisations operating for the Indian community at the time. But, a decision on its appeal is awaited from the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS).
Established in 1946, the Club has been functioning as an Indian restaurant on The Strand in the heart of London and it is located on the first floor of the 26-room Strand Continental hotel. The report states that the club is the contemporary incarnation of the India League – established by Annie Besant back in 1921. It was later revived in 1929 by Krishna Menon, India’s first High Commissioner to the UK.
Marston Properties, the company that wants to tear down the club 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. A total of 26 unprecedented public appeals were attracted by the application against the move. The India Club has been categorised as a “secret gem” and as having “unique historical value to Londoners and visitors”.