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Indian election result scuppers UEL design contest

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The University of East London (UEL) has abandoned plans for an international design competition following India’s latest general election

The university and Indian conglomerate Sahara India Pariwar have agreed to walk away from plans for a landmark expansion intended to celebrate South Asia’s contribution to British society and business.

In a statement, UEL blamed the surprise decision on the outcome of India’s May general election which saw the Bharatiya Janata Party win an outright victory.

A spokesperson said: ‘Following the outcome of the general elections in India, Sahara has reviewed its international business agenda. In conjunction with the university, Sahara has concluded that it cannot continue in this partnership ahead of some emerging, higher business priorities.’

Originally planned to open in 2015, the building was a joint effort between the university and conglomerate which planned to base its UK headquarters on the site.

Last February, UEL announced it would be seeking a ‘world renowned’ architect for the ‘iconic’ addition to its Edward Cullinan-designed Docklands campus.

The competition was originally planned to launched last summer but failed to materialise.

The project was expected to be around 70 per cent offices for the conglomerate with the remaining 30 per cent split between university teaching space and cultural uses.  

Under a deal signed last February, the two parties planned to work in partnership to develop and manage the building. Courses on offer would have included Islamic finance, Indian fashion and media.

The university said it was now considering alternative options for the waterfront site which is close to Terry Farrell’s recently consented 14 hectare business park for Chinese companies.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are now in the process of moving forward to develop our own independent proposals for the development of this land.’ 

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