A bid to save the India Club restaurant in London has been served a blow after Historic England decided against listing it.
It emerged the club was under threat from development plans last year after the owners of the freehold of 143-145 The Strand submitted plans to modernise the Strand Continental hotel, which the club resides within.
The club was started by India’s first high commissioner to the UK, Krishna Menon, and counted Lady Mountbatten and prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru among its founding members.
India Club director Yagdar Marker had asked Historic England to award the club listed status in a bid to save it, but the public body has found it does not meet its criteria for listing.
Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s chief executive, said: “The India Club did not occupy the building until 1964. The club was in fact established at 41 Craven Street, which is already listed at Grade II, and has much stronger links to the historic campaign for Indian independence.
“The Craven Street property was home to the private members’ club between 1951 and 1964, which was set up as a non-political extension of the India League – a key organisation in the campaign for Indian independence from Britain. Following the Indian Independence Act of 1947 the organisation went on to promote good relations between the two countries.
“The club moved to the Hotel Strand Continental at 143-145 Strand in 1964, meaning the building lacks a direct connection with the Indian independence movement, having been established many years after independence was achieved.”
Historic England also found that the exterior of the building was “typical for the period” and that the bar and restaurant were “lacking notable historic features”.
Marker has also launched an online petition to fight the proposals, which currently has attracted more than 21,000 signatures. Among those giving their support are several members of the House of Lords, the artist Anish Kapoor and many regular visitors.
Freeholder Marston Properties’ planning proposal outlines plans to remodel the interior of the building, replacing the India Club’s first floor restaurant and lounge bar with en-suite hotel rooms.
There would also be a partial demolition of the ground floor to allow better access to the Strand Continental hotel, which is above the India Club and is also run by Marker.
A date has yet to be set for the application to be considered by Westminster Council.
The India Club’s lease expires in 2019.
Explaining the significance of the club, Marker’s petition stated: “It was a meeting place for leading writers, intellectuals and politicians associated with India’s independence. To this day, it has retained it’s original features and still stands very much as it did in the days of the post-independence movement. It is a crucial part of the joint heritage of the UK and India.”