Restaurant U-turns on dining plans beside revered Ghurka statue

By Jacob Phillips, London Democracy Reporter

A restaurant has U-turned on plans to transform a famous London square into a late-night hot spot because it would be insensitive to a Gurkha memorial.

The restaurant, which has not been revealed, submitted plans to Westminster City council to transform Horse Guards Avenue by adding space for 80 people to dine outside the old War Offices in Whitehall.

The plans would have turned the space around the Gurkha memorial into an outdoor dining spot with space for 80 people and drinkers could have stayed outside until 1am. But the meaningful space is often visited by Gurkhas from all over the globe and the Gurkha community regularly visit to pay their respects, particularly on Remembrance Sunday.

The plans for the outdoor space were withdrawn after Westminster City council’s armed forces champion Ellie Ormsby objected and labelled the plans insensitive. The councillor wrote: “I would like to lodge an objection to this application on the basis of its insensitivity to the Gurkha memorial located in the vicinity.

“The location is a place for quiet contemplation, reflection and remembrance where individuals and families travel from across the UK and afar to visit. The Gurkhas have spent decades fighting for fair and equal recognition of their service and their right to settle in the UK.

“I am therefore deeply concerned about the lack of sensitivity and implication of turning a location so precious to this group into a late-night dining venue. It is our responsibility to remember the sacrifices servicemen and women from all across the globe have made for us and this proposal runs completely contrary to this responsibility.”

The Gurkha memorial was first unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 and commemorates 200 years of service from the Brigade of Gurkhas to the UK. Gurkha soldiers have fought for the British since 1815 and through many of its biggest conflicts – including both World Wars.

Having heard the application had been withdrawn, councillor Ormsby said: “I am absolutely delighted that this application has now been withdrawn.

“This proposal was an affront to the memorial and I am glad the applicant has seen sense given the strength of feeling on this issue across the community.”

Pictured top: The Gurkha memorial in central London. Picture: Google Maps

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