JCC's plans for £10m centre

By James Martin, February 26, 2009
An artist’s guide to the proposed facilities in the JCC centre

An artist’s guide to the proposed facilities in the JCC centre

Downsized plans for a £10 million cross-communal centre in West Hampstead were unveiled this week.

The Jewish Community Centre’s proposed redevelopment of a site at the junction of Finchley Road and Lymington Road will focus on “meeting the cultural and social needs of London’s 200,000 Jews”, according to JCC executive director Nick Viner.

Ambitious previous £50 million plans for the development, incorporating a swimming pool and gym, were abandoned last year in light of the financial climate.

“We came to the conclusion that the anticipated cost of the project would be excessive and with the downturn in the economy becoming apparent, we had to revise our plans.”

The smaller-scale scheme envisions the use of 42,000 sq ft of space, rather than the 80,000 sq ft projected in the original proposal.

Mr Viner said the intention was to create “a multi-purpose three-storey pavilion at the back of the site, linked by an entrance bridge from Finchley Road.

“A piazza adjacent to Finchley Road will be surrounded by a state-of-the art glass screen.”

Features of the lower ground floor will include a cinema, library and café, with the level above providing spaces for classes and lectures.

The top floor will house a nursery offering day care for 75 children, plus offices for the JCC’s social action projects.

“This is a centre that can act as a flagship for the whole community,” added Mr Viner, who takes inspiration from the ethos of the cross-communal educational project, Limmud.

“We can celebrate our diversity by being inclusive not exclusive. We are within half-an-hour by transport of 25,000 Jews. We are near the North-West London heartland but we are also central, so people can drop in for an event or class from work.”

A consultation process with local residents will be held before the JCC applies for planning permission in May. Fundraising will start once planning consent is granted. The project will not receive public funds.

The hope is for demolition work to take place next year with the construction phase completed by the end of 2012.

    Last updated: 5:19pm, March 5 2009