The India Club on The Strand has been saved from redevelopment plans that would have closed its restaurant and bar.
As Eater London reported in September last year, the first floor canteen and bar would have been replaced by en-suite hotel rooms, with the ground floor demolished in order to allow better access to The Strand Hotel, which sits above The India Club. The club is much unchanged since its opening in the 1940s, when it served as a meeting place for writers and intellectuals, especially in the intervening period following the Indian Independence Act in 1947.
News of the plans prompted a petition, which amassed 26,439 signatures — the original goal was 2,000. The petition said that the owners “want to preserve the building and its uses as they are and also preserve the rich cultural history they represent ... a crucial part of the joint heritage of the UK and India.” Yadgar Marker, director of the club for 20 years, said “We have preserved it, kept it all the same. The ambience is still the same, the furniture is still the same. People feel as if they are in Mumbai or Calcutta as they walk up the stairs.”
Twitter account associated with the petition, @saveindiaclub, announced the news last night:
We are extremely happy to announce that @CityWestminster Planning Committee have unanimously rejected the redevelopment plans for the India Club! Please see our statement below: #indiaclub #saveindiaclub pic.twitter.com/8gTppCu7Qe— India Club (@saveindiaclub) July 31, 2018
Food writer Sejal Sukhadwala said:
India Club is a hugely significant part of London’s restaurant history - a gathering place of former politicians, historians, academics & students from nearby LSE - especially Indian students longing for a taste of home - as well as in-the-know Londoners after a cheap & cheerful meal. Beyond that, what most people don’t realise is that It’s one of the very first restaurants to serve South Indian food in London, and its dosas are justly famous. I’m so happy that this iconic venue hasn’t been given over to developers.
Meanwhile, The Sunday Times’ restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin, who wrote a review that captured the club’s storied atmosphere while at The Guardian, told Eater London: “I’m just delighted that for once sense has prevailed. The India Club is so much more than just a restaurant, it’s a piece of living history. And the lamb curry’s pretty fine too.
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.”