London’s India Club, which is steeped in nostalgia and one of the more affordable dining options on the Strand, has extended its fundraising drive as it looks to launch a legal challenge against its landlords.
The owners of the historic building within which the India Club is housed is Marston Properties. For some time the firm has wanted to reclaim the space and in the past has talked of redevelopment ventures in the form of a luxury hotel.
Previous attempts have been quashed by Westminster Council, with vocal support for the restaurant owners among the public. Now, the pandemic having depleted the India Club’s funds, Marston has given up on seeing planning permission approved and is instead trying to take the property back for business use.
The legality of the situation is complex and we don’t want to be sued. Simply, the India Club’s future is at risk, and many in the hospitality industry and beyond will miss it if it goes.
In order to secure its longevity, here is what the India Club has to say:
“We are incredibly grateful for the love and support received to help us reach our initial target. However, as we begin our legal fight, we need to continue raising more funds to stay afloat in the current economic climate. Please keep sharing and contributing so we can meet our stretch target, which includes our estimated total legal fees. Any extra funds raised or costs recovered will go to our rent costs and be a much needed lifeline during these uncertain times. Thank you very much.
The India Club restaurant and bar at 143-145 Strand is a rare slice of living history in the heart of London. Unfortunately, we have been served with a notice to vacate the premises by our property-developer landlord. This comes at a time when we have worked tirelessly to survive the pandemic, like many in the hospitality industry. Our aim has always been to preserve the India Club for future generations and we are now appealing for your help.
In 2018, Westminster Council rejected the landlord’s previous redevelopment plans on the basis that losing the India Club would be materially harmful to the cultural provision of the area. Sadly, the fight didn’t end there. The landlord has recently served us with a notice to modernise and run their own hotel from the property. If this fails, they want a crippling 80% increase in rent, amid a pandemic which has already had a devastating effect on us as a local independent business. To date, we have always met our rent obligations.
The India Club was established over 50 years ago by Krishna Menon, India’s first High Commissioner to the UK, with founding members, Lady Mountbatten and Prime Minister Nehru. It was a meeting place for leading figures associated with post-independent India. The building has long since been a “home-away-from-home” for the UK’s Indian diaspora and has introduced many to Indian culture. It is an increasingly rare example of the UK’s multicultural heritage in the heart of the capital, with a longstanding ethos of keeping prices low to be accessible to all.
Three generations of our family have run the India Club for over 23 years, from the oldest generation working behind reception to the youngest, waitressing. Yet, we are just one of thousands of families who hold a deep attachment to this cultural institution.”
Marston Properties told Harden’s:
“Marston Properties is proud to have been investing in buildings in London for over 125 years. We have owned an interest in the building since 1981 and originally purchased it with the intention of running the hotel one day. For some time, we have been concerned about the viability and condition of the building.
Many options have been explored over the last few years to resolve these issues including seeking planning permission for two different redevelopment schemes. We have had many discussions with Goldsand Hotels but have been unable to achieve a mutually agreeable solution with them. As the Landlord we are entitled, following the expiry of Goldsand Hotels’ lease, to regain possession to occupy the building for our own business use and therefore notice was served on Goldsand Hotels in August 2020.”