Gin club business warns that Soho is ‘vanishing’
Approval for 174-room hotel is seen as a ‘final nail’ in the coffin
04 July, 2018 — By Tom Foot
An artist’s impression of the proposed hotel in Wardour Street
AN independent business with roots in the West End going back to the 1930s has warned a “final nail” is being hammered into Soho’s coffin.
In an open letter to Westminster Council, the London Gin Club (at the Star) in Great Chapel Street, Soho, has criticised a decision to approve a transformation of the seven-storey Film House office block in Wardour Street into a 174-room hotel.
The building, formerly the headquarters of the Associated-British Pathé film company, has for decades housed a mix of creative groups but the council justified the change saying it had a policy of increasing “visitor accommodation” in Soho.
The Gin Club’s blog said: “Westminster Council granted permission despite overwhelming objections. In five to 10 years Soho will become Covent Garden. A generic area dominated by global retail and hospitality enterprises whose sole purpose is to suck in tourist dollars.”
The blogger adds: “My family has run a business here since 1933. I was brought up here and have lived here for over 25 years and for the first time in that period Soho doesn’t feel like home.
“Soho is vanishing. Westminster Council have no interest in supporting the independent character of Soho and the individuals that have created and maintain it.
“On face value it would be easy to conclude that Westminster Council are actively trying to get rid of small independent businesses. So come on Westminster – what do you want? You cannot rely on the diversity of Soho to pull in visitors while at the same time decimating it.”
The application from Sir Richard Sutton Limited is for the demolition and redevelopment behind retained façades of 142-150 Wardour Street and 138-140 Wardour Street, and 20 St Anne’s Court.
Westminster Council was unavailable for comment.