Saved from developers, the venerable India Club in central London is now facing eviction after the landlord has decided to hike the rent in order to get rid of the troublesome tenant.
Hidden away up a narrow flight of stairs inside the Hotel Strand Continental, the India Club, founded as a club, was set up in 1951 by the Indian politician, and India’s first High Commissioner to the UK, Krishna Menon, as a meeting place for people associated with post-Independence India.
Today it’s less an affable club than an affordable restaurant, and one that has managed to retain its clubable atmosphere in a dining room that hasn’t changed since it first opened. To walk inside is to walk back 70 years.
It’s not the best Indian restaurant in London, and the reviews of the food are decidedly mixed, but it has a curious ability to cling on decade after decade serving decently acceptable food thanks in part to the very affordable prices, but also the loyalty of a large portion of the customer base.
A couple of years back though the India Club nearly closed, as owners of the building it sits in, Marston Properties, planned to revamp the building, and in doing so the second-floor restaurant would have been evicted to make space for more bedrooms.
Following an outcry, the planning application was refused, due to the “loss of an important cultural and night time entertainment use (the India Club restaurant/bar)”. They did then offer to revamp the hotel while retaining “a restaurant” on the second floor but then withdrew that planning application.
The building owner, Marston Properties still needs to develop the site somewhat though, as it lacks a lift and some modern facilities, and while it caters to the low-cost backpacker community, the owners clearly see opportunities for a more refined and hence higher-paying customer base.
They seem to have found a way of overcoming the planning problem of having an “important cultural venue” as a tenant – evict the tenant by means of an 80% hike in the rent.
The India Club is now fundraising to fight the landlord’s egregious rent hike, which is coming at a time when many sensible landlords are reducing rents or offering revenue-based rents to support their tenants during the pandemic.
A landlord seeking to support a tenant would not be hiking the rent.
If the landlord evicts the India Club they’ll be able to resubmit their planning application and redevelop the hotel as they wish. While the redevelopment plans are sympathetic to the building, there’s little sympathy for their efforts to evict the India Club.
More details here.