Essel Group plans major Indian cultural hub in London
By Aditi Khanna
London, Apr 11 (PTI) Mumbai-headquartered Essel Group has opened talks for a major investment in east London to create a world-class visitor attraction, hotel and leisure complex to celebrate India's culture and history.
The Indian conglomerate led by media baron Subhash Chandra plans to redevelop an entire 62-acre brownfield site in east London's Royal Docks area known as Silvertown Quays.
A proposal has been submitted to the Greater London Authority (GLA) to purchase the land from the current developers, the Silvertown Partnership, a consortium consisting of Chelsfield Properties, First Base and Macquarie Capital.
"London remains the beating heart of Europe, and the Essel Group is committed to making a huge investment into London to complete the transformation of this part of the city, offering a sustainable and eco-friendly development that meets the requirements of the current planning permission and ensuring this project moves quickly," said Parul Goel, a spokesperson for the company.
"With Brexit looming, this kind of investment into the UK represents a massive coup for the GLA and the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. The cultural centre will be like no other in the world, and we aim to put this part of London back on the map," Goel added.
Futuristic computer-generated images released this week by the Essel Group and HPW Architects show the multi-billion-pound cultural centre that would sit on 14 acres at the heart of the Silvertown project under the proposal.
The architects say the centre will provide a "cultural landmark" for London which will "defy traditional tall build typologies" and transform the City skyline.
Spanning 2.5 million square feet, the centre would include museums and a theatre, retail outlets, restaurants, a botanical garden and a luxury hotel.
The project has the potential to deliver 5,000 jobs in the East End of London and provide a huge boost to the economy, according to the Mumbai-based diversified group with interests across media and entertainment, packaging, infrastructure, education, precious metals, finance and technology.
The 3.5-billion-pound Silvertown redevelopment, which is already underway, will transform a former industrial area in Newham between Canary Wharf and London City airport in the British capital, and create more than 3,000 homes, including affordable housing. The proposed purchase by Essel Group includes Millennium Mills, a 20th century former flour mill.
The company said the London plans are the culmination of a long-held ambition by Chandra, Chairman of Essel Group, to create an educational cultural destination that will showcase the impact and influence of ancient civilisations over 6,000 years.
Visitors will start at the top of the centre and work their way through museums, art galleries and interactive experiences highlighting the origins of the Indus and other civilisations to the modern day.
The centre will also provide space for mediation, yoga and dance as well as a spa and wedding venue. A conference centre, exhibition facilities and a global news and world class TV production studio are also proposed.
"Dr Chandra is recognised as an ambassador of Indian culture to the rest of the world. His vision is that the basic DNA of the centre will be based the idea that the world is one family. People from different beliefs, religions, countries and regions will be able to use its free and fair environment to hold discussions and arrive at possible solutions to current conflicts," Goel said.
If the plans are approved, the Essel Group's proposed development of Silvertown could see the cultural centre open by 2023, subject to approval by the GLA. A decision on the proposal is expected by the end of this month. PTI AK NSA NSA
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