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The Independent Online
Notting Hill Gate, the increasingly popular home to stars and arty types, will gain a magnificent club if a new property venture succeeds in raising money in the next six weeks.

The Cobden Club is seeking £800,000 under the Enterprise Investment Scheme to purchase and refurbish the 112-year-old working men's club on the Portobello Road established by the radical philanthropist, Lord Cobden.

It will house a restaurant, a bar and, on the third floor, a 1,500 sq ft entertaining hall with vaulted ceiling, pillars decorated with cherubs and a listed Victorian stage. The membership committee, which includes a host of trendy Notting Hill types including Amanda de Cadenet, Rifat Ozbek and Will Self, will be offering life membership to anyone taking a £3,000 stake or more.

Behind the ambitious venture are Ivo Hesmondhalgh, 38, a former solicitor who now runs property companies, and William Brannigan, 33, a nightclub manager. "Everyone in this area complains they spend half their lives in taxis travelling to clubs like the Groucho and Blacks in the West End," Mr Hesmondhalgh said. "It's time we had a place of our own