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JCC vows to find new home despite credit crunch

PUBLISHED: 16:17 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:27 07 September 2010

The Jewish Community Centre for London has vowed to find a new home in 2009, despite being forced to drop plans for their Finchley Road super centre because of the credit crunch. In July, organisers of the group announced their long-established plans to

The Jewish Community Centre for London has vowed to find a new home in 2009, despite being forced to drop plans for their Finchley Road super centre because of the credit crunch.

In July, organisers of the group announced their long-established plans to redevelop the former Mercedes garage would have to be scrapped because of financial pressures.

The elaborate plans for a multi-million pound hub included a cinema, theatre, swimming pool and lecture halls.

Despite the setback, chief executive Nick Viner has vowed they will have a new home under construction by the new year and the organisation is still on the up.

"We are looking at options. We had something very ambitious and expensive but we now need something more fitting for our times," said Mr Viner.

"We are looking at demolishing the existing building and starting with a more modest scheme, but one that is still very much in keeping with our vision.

"It remains to be seen what we can build, what that will cost and what it will have to do to meet planning requirements, but we have a good understanding of the challenges the site represents and we are working through them at the moment.

"As far as people who attend the JCC events go, nothing has changed - the building is just a part of our future."

Mr Viner was speaking as the centre, currently run out of offices in Primrose Hill, launched its new programme for the autumn and winter. Events include debates, social action and family entertainment and are held at various venues across London, with Hampstead Town Hall hosting a singing workshop on October 26, creative writing in South End Green in November and silk painting in Camden Town in December.

And on October 12, Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland and the Daily Mail's Melanie Phillips will have a debate about the American election at Hampstead Town Hall. They will present the case for Barack Obama and John McCain respectively.

Mr Freedland has been a long-term supporter of the community centre, but in June said they should shelve plans for a permanent home and continue hosting events in venues across London.

Mr Viner said this wasn't an option being considered by the group, but the news of the site's delays had brought forward some exciting new partners to host events in the future.

"Lots of other organisations have been in touch asking if we want to do something together," he said.

"It is still our hope that we will start work on a building next year but we are absolutely committed in continuing to put on interesting events until then.

"The building funds have been made available to us by donors and we have to be careful with it. It is very easy to waste money and we do not want to do that.

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