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Sun City set to shine in north London


Chapman Taylor Partners' £150 million Asian cultural centre, using Grimshaw's Seville Expo pavilion, is back on track with work planned to start in two months.

Sun City, first granted planning permission in 1993, has been on hold because of the high cost of clearing the London site and the need for 10,000m2 more land. But the scheme's mastermind, Kenyan-based film maker Sharad Patel, has submitted an application to Brent Council for the extra land and says that the funding issues have been cleared.

The project on 3.5ha of land in Neasden will centre around Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners' pavilion for the Seville Expo. The building was dismantled and shipped to England where it is currently packed in containers on the site. It will be used as a high-tech exhibition centre.

The rest of the project includes a 210-bed four-star hotel, an 18-screen cinema, a shopping mall with Asian restaurants, offices, spaces for 1200 cars and a TV station. The total area is 100,000m2. 'We've been involved again and the sketchbooks are back out,' said a practice spokesman.

The site clearance cost has risen from £3 million to £11 million and the project is using more space, but the scheme is ready, says Patel. A council decision is expected in two months and building work would start soon after. A finish date is penned for 2002.

'We have about eight months of bad weather in the uk,' said Patel. 'We want a dome inside that will form an artificial sky so at 3am it will seem like 3pm on a sunny afternoon. There has been enormous cultural change ... Sun City will be about celebration, it is not about religion.'

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