Redbridge extends its communal campus

By Jessica Elgot, August 6, 2009
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Plans for an extended Redbridge Jewish campus incorporating schools, a community centre and, potentially, a synagogue in a multi-million pound project are under serious discussion.

As previously reported, Ilford Jewish Primary School is planning to move to the site of King Solomon High in Barkingside.

The wider scheme will see the Sinclair House community centre transfer there and the vision of Sinclair House chairman Philip Leigh is to add a merged Ilford United/Ilford Federation shul. Subject to funding, he believes Sinclair House will have transferred by 2013.

“Jewish people are moving out of central Ilford and we believe this new site will be closer to the heart of where people live now. The perception of the centre is that it is somewhere for elderly people to go. Moving next door to a school will help us attract a younger crowd.” The current community centre premises will be sold to help finance the £7 million move. There are also plans for a kosher restaurant, the brainchild of Sinclair House’s Paul Marks.

As for a shul, Mr Leigh maintained that “a Jewish campus would be incomplete without a synagogue”.
Sinclair House is under the aegis of Jewish Care, whose chief executive Simon Morris said there would be other longer term benefits, like “substantial” sums saved through shared security, playing fields and kitchens. “We’re working closely with the local authority to try and make this Jewish campus a reality.”
Ilford Federation and Ilford United recently resumed talks about a possible merger, in the face of a declining local Jewish population. Families remaining east of the capital are moving further into Essex.

Ilford Federation chairman Leon Newmark said: “No decisions have been made as far as moving our shul is concerned. It is a pipedream. However, I do think it would be good at some stage to see an Orthodox shul opened on that site.”

His Ilford United counterpart Maurice Shear pointed out: “We’re familiar with the site and we use the school for our overflow service during the High Holy-Days.

“But we cannot move to somewhere that is not within walking distance, whatever the dreams of Mr Leigh might be.”

    Last updated: 4:32pm, August 6 2009