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Historic India Club in London saved from demolition

London's India Club has been saved from redevelopment. (Facebook/ India Club)
London's India Club has been saved from redevelopment. (Facebook/ India Club)

The India Club in London, which was closely linked with India’s freedom movement, has been saved from demolition after the Westminister City Council denied the owner permission to redevelop the site.

The India Club, housed within the Strand, close to the Indian High Commission, was the venue for meetings of freedom-fighter and India’s first high commissioner to London V Krishna Menon’s India League.

 Thousands of people had signed an online petition to save the India Club.

“Westminster Council refused permission for the redevelopment of 143-145 Strand to a new luxury hotel due to the potential loss of a significant historical venue located on its site, the India Club,” councilor Tony Devenish, chairman of the council’s planning applications sub-committee, was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times, an Indian daily newspaper.

 “The India Club has a special place in the history of our Indian community and it is right that we protect it from demolition,” Devenish added.

 A council document setting out the refusal to redevelop the building said: “The restaurant/bar is known as the India Club, which has strong associations with the expat Indian community dating back to 1951 and is considered to be of remarkable cultural importance.”

 India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the last Vicereine of India Edwina Mountbatten were some of the founders of the India Club. It still attracts large number of people mainly due to its period ambience.

The club is owned by Marston Properties, but is run by Yadgar Marker since 1997. The lease for the property will expire in 2019 and Marker had enlisted the help of historians to save the club.

Earlier this year, the Historic England, a public body that champions England’s historic environment, had questioned the club’s links to India’s independence movement, saying the building was established many years after India gained independence.

 “By the time the club moved to the Strand, it was one of the great number of organizations in existence in the 1960s working to promote British-Indian relations, and supporting the Indian diaspora,” the public body said, according to Hindustan Times.

 However, the council document noted that the club was still of notable cultural importance and it is a “vibrant and busy meeting place for both the local community and visitors from around the world, and its replacement with additional hotel accommodation would decrease the range of places to eat and drink for visiting members of the public.”