Fight the planning pemission for 1st Floor of 41 Dean Street, Soho
(historic site of the Colony Room)
“The Colony is a living work of art, it’s a tragedy what’s happening. From Bacon to Beckett, Rimbaud to Rotten, the Colony must not be forgotten”. Sebastian Horsley.
The infamous Colony Room, Francis Bacon being a founder member, is a private members’ drinking club for artists and other creative people in Dean Street, Soho, London. It has gathered a reputation akin to famous clubs of the past such as the Kit-Kat club. According to Anthony Haden-Guest, it is “one of the fiercely eccentric clubs that make all the difference in London.”
The Colony Room Club today is as popular as ever, attracting low-lifes as well as artists of all types. Francis Bacon was a founder member, and it has been a cultural magnet for the Young British Artists group, including Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and Tracy Emin. It’s the club where Kate Moss did a stint as barmaid; Dylan Thomas threw up on the carpet and Princess Margaret popped in for a pink gin. Not only a haunt of celebrities, visitors ended up being captivated and bewitched by the casual and bohemian ambience, where everyone could relax and discourse on all manner of subjects with all types of people.
Please object to Westminster giving planning permission to the landlord for changing the use of the first floor of 41 Dean Street from “sui generis” (effectively unique use) to residential use. As well as forever denying the Colony Room its spiritual home, it will likely devastate the adjacent bar of Groucho’s Club, who will undoubtedly get constant complaints about noise from their new residential neighbours.
The decision is imminent and there is hope that we can get a good turn-out at the actual planning meeting, in Westminster City Hall. I will post the details of this meeting as soon as I have them.
Please send your objections to this planning proposal to the below case officer in Westminster Council. Can we suggest that you concentrate on change of use from “sui generis” and the impact upon other commercial premises in the area (eg Groucho’s), as well as loss of the venue for the Club. Miss Hosenally (the Case Officer) has taken the line that it has all been stripped out and is now a shell, but it can always be replaced and it is the Colony Room’s spiritual home too.
Zulekha Hosenally, Central Planning Team, Westminster Council, 64 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QL
Or call her on 020 7641 2511
Case Numbers 09/02725/FULL & 09/02726/CAC.
Please be certain to include the case numbers above, your full name and a postal address. Please act soon, as it is really the only chance (however slim) that The Colony Room has of getting back into its spiritual and historic home on 41 Dean Street.
Many thanks for your support,
Michael Peel and Phil Barrington
Phil Barrington’s email to Westminster Council, 17/06/09, as an example of an objection;
I have just seen online the application for the redevelopment of 41 Dean Street by the current landlord. I wish to lodge my objection to the redevelopment of the site as currently proposed.
From what I understand, the proposal involves the development of the first floor of the address into a residential area. This proposed living space for residents doesn’t make any sense to me, personally; anyone who moves into the address would immediately complain about the sheer levels of noise from the businesses from either side of the address (i.e. Groucho’s), which would be a disaster – not only for the residents but for the long-established businesses too.
Furthermore, as an artist myself, I recognise the utmost socio-historical importance of the world famous business that resided at the address until recent financial difficulties – ‘The Colony Room’. This establishment holds such vital importance to the history of modern art in this country that I am surprised – nay, gobsmacked – that the Westminster Council has not appeared to assist in finding internal or external funding to help support the Colony Room back into existence.
I have had many dealings with local councils in recent years, and I honestly don’t know why it seems that no Community Support Officer from your Council has recognised that the Colony Room is more than just a business – it is a bonafide institution that should be preserved and supported in any way possible by the Westminster Council – both in the Council’s efforts to support local arts in general, and in assisting an institution to exist for future generations of artists in particular.
The Colony Room (of which I confess I have never visited, nor have any association with) holds much more international appeal than any ill-placed, non-descript residential property could ever have.
Okay. Rant over! Seriously, please do note my objections as outlined above, and please do always consider The Colony Room as a real British asset that should be saved. Maybe not solely funded by the Council itself, but certainly assisted by the Westminster Council in any way possible to find its way into the lives of future generations of creatives.