Read the full report here
The revised plans will also accommodate a restaurant and bar at first and second floors as part of the hotel as now, provide a level access DDA compliant lift to all floors, and a larger retail area and retail frontage at ground floor level. The new staircase and fire escape will be a protected route out of the building for all floors including the restaurant.
There has been widespread misreporting of this story, with false claims that Marston planned to demolish the building, when their plans have only ever focused on a refurbishment to make it safe.
Marstons, the freeholder of the building and Goldsand Hotels Ltd are in talks about the future of the building.
Caroline Marston, managing director of Marston Properties, said:
“We have listened to the criticism from councillors and these new plans retain a restaurant, while addressing the loss of retail space and retail frontage and providing safe access and means of escape. It is absolutely vital we are able to bring this building in to line with modern safety standards and ensure that no one staying in the hotel is at risk. The current plans retain a restaurant and bar as part of the hotel operation.
Nehru and Lady Mountbatten had died well before there was a restaurant and bar at 143 145 Strand
Various newspaper articles have been critical of the recent decision by Historic England and DCMS, not to list the building housing the India Club at 143-145 The Strand. We would like to take the opportunity to set the record straight here because, sadly, many journalists have continued to repeat the erroneous claims being made by the India Club Supporters.
While we respect that the restaurant and building hold a special place in the hearts of many people, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the facts.
Setting the record straight:
- We’re not demolishing the building.
- If there had been any evidence that the heritage links to the building were as significant as claimed, we would have been the first to look to preserve it.
- The original India Club began in Covent Garden, not The Strand.
- The current India Club restaurant began in the 1964 – not before.
- The building does not meet current fire regulations and must be made safe.
- The management are struggling to maintain even basic hygiene standards partly due to the poor condition of the building
-We are very happy to continue to work with the current leaseholders once the refurbishments and repairs have been made.
With this in mind, we would like to take the opportunity to answer a few questions that have been raised.
Q. Why are you destroying the 1940s home of the Indian independence movement?
The original India Club was located at Craven Street in Soho. That building is already listed. Our building had no connections to any political movement involved in Indian Independence in the 1940’s. Confusion has occurred because the club has been located in multiple places throughout its life. Historic England, the independent heritage arm of the UK Government, has a report which explains this.
Their report states:
- "There is no documentary evidence placing the India League organisation in the building prior to 1964"
- "The building at 143-145 Strand, which did not come into use as the India Club until 1964, has no direct link to this [the campaign for independence] important aspect of British-Indian history."
- "There is no substantive evidence to support the claim that [the India Club] was a ‘key’ part of immigrant cultural history and experience in the UK."
Q. Why are you bringing in the wrecking ball?
There is no wrecking ball. Newspapers have made this up. There are no plans to demolish the building.
Focusing on the heritage claims have clouded the view of the hotel management. The building as it stands is a potential safety risk and various fire safety measures have not been implemented fully for many years. The Hotel managers are the duty holders and should be aware of their responsibilities without having to be reminded by us or environmental health officers. Simple housekeeping measures could be taken to reduce the risks but simply are not .
Fire safety and accessibility are our priorities and our refurbishment plans will provide a working lift with level access to all floors and bring safety measures in line with modern legal requirements.
A fire safety report produced by fire safety experts Menzies Partners said: “multiple recommendations made in the 2010 fire risk assessment have not been addressed by the hotel management.” The current management were warned about multiple safety risks back in 2010 but have not taken action as they should. Now the lease is nearing its end, and we want take action to upgrade the building.
Due to the condition of the building, the management have struggled even to maintain basic standards of hygiene as a consequence a fine was imposed earlier this year by Westminster Magistrates Court. The building needs this update and we feel strongly that safety warnings must be taken seriously.
Q. Why are you replacing the India Club with a swish hotel?
This has been made up by the press. We have no plans whatsoever for a ‘swish’ or boutique hotel. We have said multiple times that we’d be happy to discuss agreeing new leases with the current occupiers once the refurbishment has been completed. The proposed upgrade will provide a modern, clean, safe and affordable Central London hotel.
Q. Would this mean an increase in their rent?
Yes, because the refurbished space and facilities when completed will be brand new. Also, the current rent was agreed more than 5 years ago under an old agreement . It is very normal that rents are agreed to reflect the current market and amenities of the building and we are no different in taking the opportunity to do so.