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Jewish Community Centre plans win approval

PUBLISHED: 11:32 17 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:27 07 September 2010

A new Jewish community centre - inspired by its New York counterpart - will be built on the Finchley Road after planning approval from Camden Council. The Jewish Community Centre for London (JCC) will now transform the old Alan Day Mercedes Benz showroom

A new Jewish community centre - inspired by its New York counterpart - will be built on the Finchley Road after planning approval from Camden Council.

The Jewish Community Centre for London (JCC) will now transform the old Alan Day Mercedes Benz showroom into a new centre, a 14-flat residential block and a big piazza inspired by the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

The scheme has been two years in the planning and is eagerly anticipated after the JCC's initial plans were put on hold 14 months ago because of the economic crisis.

JCC chief executive Nick Viner said: "This is a visionary project with the potential to transform Jewish life in London. It's also a project for which half the funds - £25million - are already in place.

"As a community, we must grasp the opportunity to realise this vision with both hands.

"We are all very excited about the project. It has been a long time in planning. The centre has the support of all the different parts of the Jewish community and has brought them all together."

Designed by architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (LDS), the new centre will include a cinema screening room, arts and crafts workshop, demonstration kitchen, cafe, dance and rehearsal studios, classrooms and a nursery.

In front of the centre, near Finchley Road and Frognal Station, the piazza will be used for concerts, the cafe and possibly an ice rink in winter.

JCC bosses hope the building will be open by 2013 and they are aiming to raise the other £25million needed through private donations by the end of the year.

This will be the JCC's first home since being founded five years ago by the Clore Duffield Foundation (CDF).

Since then, the group has run a series of events across London including debates, talks, art shows and children's activities.

Dame Vivien Duffield, chairman of the CDF, which committed £25million to the project, said: "Ever since I saw at first hand the impact of the JCC in New York, I have been passionate about bringing the same benefits to London.

"This is not just any building - but one that is beautifully designed, modern and stylish.

"Creating a space where everyone can come together will be enriching and enlivening for the whole Jewish community and for the wider community beyond.

"It's on this basis that we felt we could justify the unprecedented financial support we're providing to the project. It's up to the community now to raise the remainder of the funds and make the JCC a reality."

London mayor Boris Johnson has welcomed the scheme as has Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks.

Rabbi Sacks said: "The JCC is already a thriving and popular example of how the whole Jewish community can come together to share cultural experiences and take real pleasure in doing so.

"The quality of Jewish culture has always been high and we will now have a world-class facility in London in which to celebrate it."

For more information, visit www.jcclondon.org.uk.

Susanna Wilkey

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