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New-look Jewish centre unveiled

PUBLISHED: 13:32 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:58 07 September 2010

An artist's impression

An artist's impression

Katie Davies PLANS have finally been revealed for the Jewish Community Centre for London in Finchley Road, which were first mooted four years ago. The charitable organisation has unveiled plans for its new building which will include an open air piazza,

Katie Davies

PLANS have finally been revealed for the Jewish Community Centre for London in Finchley Road, which were first mooted four years ago.

The charitable organisation has unveiled plans for its new building which will include an open air piazza, children's nursery, a series of classrooms and workshops and a block of 14 private flats.

The scheme is a much smaller version than suggested before the recession, when a swimming pool and gym were on the drawing board.

But organisers say their reduced version will be just as successful. Chief executive Nick Viner said: "It is exciting to have something pared down, it is focused with breathing space around it and I think we've come up with something powerful."

The aim is to demolish the current building in 2010, if Camden Council's planning department gives the project permission.

A three-storey pavilion building will be erected to host indoor activities in classrooms, workshops, a main hall, cafe and library.

It will be joined by a detached block of flats and a landscaped courtyard around them which will be used for activities from an ice skating rink to an open-air market.

The whole scheme would be open by 2013 and available to both Jewish and non-Jewish visitors.

The centre's development has come under the spotlight in previous months after high profile supporter journalist Jonathan Freedland said the centre should simply host events in other venues rather than have its own base.

Since 2005, it has held events in venues from Hampstead Town Hall to the Barbican and Mr Freedland said the roaming nature of the centre's programme was making it more inclusive and should continue.

Mr Viner said the new smaller scheme was a compromise between the initial plans and Mr Freedland's view: "We spent a lot of time thinking about part building it now and adding more later, but decided it would be better to leave open air space.

"For larger events of 150 up we will still use established venues but the building will provide an important dimension and a focal point for our community and will bring together the different things we are doing all in one place."

A consultation will be held on plans when they are handed in to Camden Council. And the charity, led by philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield, is having a three-day exhibition from Sunday at 27A Lymington Road.


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