Selfridges fights plan to open strip club opposite world famous department store

By Rachael Burford, Local Democracy Reporter

One of the world’s most famous department stores is fighting plans to open a strip club directly opposite its new £300million entrance.

Selfridges has objected to an application for the club in Duke Street, Westminster, overlooked by its Brasserie of Light restaurant.

Electshow Ltd, which ran lap dancing venue the Mayfair Club in Dover Street, has applied to Westminster council to turn the existing Blush club into a gentleman’s bar offering “full nudity”, striptease and pole-dancing between 9pm and 6am Monday to Saturday.

The Mayfair Club closed in December when the lease ran out.

Company director Wahid Mekhaiel said he wanted to effectively transfer his sexual entertainment licence to the Duke Street premises.

A representative said the strip club would be discreet and would not affect the store.

But at a meeting last week Philip Kolvin QC, for Selfridges, told Westminster’s licensing committee that a strip club “has no place here”.

He said: “Selfridges needs no introduction. It is an iconic retail store, one of the anchor retail stores of the West End of London and acts as a magnet for visitors.

“My clients have spent five years and £300million on a redevelopment of the Duke Street facade to transform it from the rather modest services side of the building to a fine piece of architecture in its own right.

“That entrance is directly opposite the application site.”

Mr Kolvin added that the store was building a 20,000sqft toy shop and a cinema in Duke Street to make the area more “family orientated” until late into the night.

He said: “I will say once and shortly, this proposal for a lap dancing club is entirely inimical to the character of this area.

“It has no place here. This is not an application for a corner store. It’s a 6am sexual entertainment venue licence and nightclub in a highly sensitive location. It has attracted a large amount of objections.”

The New West End Company, residents and the Met were also among the objectors.

One warned the nightclub would cause “severe damage to the residential character and family environment of the area”.

Craig Baylis, speaking for Mr Mekhaiel, said the club would be discreet, had already been operating as a standard nightclub without incident, and would not affect Selfridges.

He said: “They operate at totally different times.

“Why is this location not suitable given all the perimeters and safeguards which are being put forward by the applicant?

“There is no crossover of operating hours, no external advertisement of the operation.”

He said the club would be likely to offer sexual entertainment only three nights a week.

Westminster council is expected to publish its decision this week.

Pictured top: Selfridges, in Oxford Street

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