London JCC gets go-ahead for £50m centre

By Jenni Frazer, September 17, 2009

The Jewish Community Centre for London (JCC) has received unanimous planning permission from Camden Council to build its long-awaited new home in Swiss Cottage, north west London.

A former car showroom will be razed and rebuilt as a multi-purpose cultural building, expected to open in 2013.

The project was the initiative of Dame Vivien Duffield, whose Clore Duffield Foundation has committed £25 million to the scheme, the biggest ever single gift to a Jewish communal body — and also the biggest donation she has ever made to any project.

The board of the JCC met this week to discuss the next stages. Nick Viner, the JCC’s chief executive, said that half the funds were already in place for “a visionary project with the potential to transform Jewish life in London”.

Fourteen months ago, the original plans, which included a built-in swimming pool, were shelved in the face of the emerging recession. Architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands went back to the drawing board and have now produced plans for a 30,000 sq ft building with a multi-purpose hall, a cinema screening room, a recording studio, an arts and crafts workshop, and a demonstration kosher kitchen for cooking displays.

There will be a dedicated nursery floor for nearly 80 children. The planned building will have an open piazza in the front which will allow events to spill outdoors.

Dame Vivien said: “I am really thrilled that we have received planning permission and I am so proud of all the people who made it happen. 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 up to the community now to raise the remainder of the funds and make the JCC a reality.”

John Denham, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said: "This is great news for the Jewish Community and for community relations in London. The JCC’s emphasis of the values of inclusivity, charity and social action are a great example to all."

Last updated: 1:48pm, September 18 2009