A planning application that would have seen London’s historic India Club closed to make room for hotel rooms has been refused by Westminster City Council.
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.
Freeholder Marston Properties’ application outlined plans to remodel the interior of the building, replacing the India Club’s first floor restaurant and lounge bar with en-suite hotel rooms.
Council officers had recommended the refusal of the application, citing: “Loss of retail and loss of an important cultural and night time entertainment use (the India Club restaurant/bar).”
Councillor Tony Devenish, chairman of Westminster City Council’s planning applications sub-committee, said: “Westminster Council refused permission for the redevelopment of 143-145 Strand due 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.”
More than 26,000 people had signed an online petition to save the club, with supporters including Virendra Sharma MP.
The Save the India Club campaign group has said it will now apply to Westminster Council to list the bar and restaurant as an asset of community value.
India Club director Yagdar Marker had previously asked Historic England to award the club listed status in a bid to save it, but the public body found it did not meet its criteria for listing.
It is not yet known if Marston Properties will appeal the council’s decision.