‘Special’ Strand curry house is saved from demolition
India Club wins reprieve after 26,000 sign petition opposing plans for hotel accommodation development – restaurant owners say they will now continue campaigning for Asset of Community Value status
03 August, 2018 — By Tom Foot
India Club owner Yadgar Marker
THE famous India Club curry house has been saved from demolition.
Planning chiefs said the institution in the Strand had a “special place” in history and was too important to lose to development.
The Extra revealed last week that council officials had recommended that the threatened club be saved after more than 26,000 people signed a petition in support.
A statement from the India Club said: “We are delighted that Westminster Council has refused an application that would have seen a unique and iconic piece of London’s history disappear.”
“We have been overwhelmed with the support we have received with over 26,000 people signing our petition in support of the India Club.
“Thank you to each and every one of our supporters who have contributed to the collective voice of the unique significant of the India Club. We are also extremely grateful to Westminster Council for recognising the building’s cultural importance and contribution to area. The India Club is a constant reminder of Westminster’s multi-cultural identity and Indo-British friendship. We will now continue to campaign for the building’s long-term preservation, including applying to Westminster for its designation as an Asset of Community Value [AVC].”
ACV status could help the council refuse any future applications to demolish the building.
The India Club’s founding members in the 1950s included India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, independence campaigner VK Krishna Menon and Lady Mountbatten.
Simon Wilson, a former British deputy high commissioner in Kolkata, said it would be a “tragedy” if the restaurant closed, adding: “The India Club is a time-warp that resonates with the atmosphere of those who forged ties of friendship between India and Britain after independence.
“We should be celebrating this diversity not destroying it by allowing it to fall to modern development. It deserves to be saved.”
Freeholders Marston Properties submitted designs to remodel the building, already home to Strand Continental Hotel on other floors, to create a more modern offer for guests and tourists.
The upper floors where the India Club is based would have been converted into further accommodation, if the planning consent had been granted.
In its planning statement, Marston said: “If there had been any evidence that the heritage links to the building were as significant as claimed, we would have been the first to look to preserve it.
“The original India Club began in Covent Garden not the Strand.”
After the hearing, planning chief Cllr Tony Devenish said: “Westminster Council refused permission for the redevelopment of 143-145 Strand due to the potential loss of an important cultural venue located on its site, the India Club.
“The India Club has a special place in the history of our Indian community and it is right that we protect it from demolition.”