CULTURAL ‘LANDMARK’: An artist’s impression of part of the India complex; and (inset below) Dr Subhash Chandra


INDIAN entrepreneur Subhash Chandra, who set up India’s Zee Television, is due to fly into London this week for talks on what is, even by his standards, a super-ambitious project to create a £3.5 billion centre for Indian culture. 

Chandra wants to transform a 62-acre brownfield site between Canary Wharf and the City Airport in east London into a hous­ing, office, theatre and recreation complex that will reflect the “Indus civilisation of In­dia going back 6,000 years”.  

The 67-year-old chairman of the £14bn Essel group with “interests in media, enter­tainment, packaging, Infrastructure, educa­tion, precious metals, finance and technolo­gy”, intends to conclude talks that have been going on since last October with the Silver­town Partnership, which holds the site.  

The partnership is a consortium consist­ing of Chelsfield Properties, First Base and Macquarie Capital.  

Once agreement is reached, Chandra’s building proposals, which include 3,000 new homes, will be submitted to the Greater London Authority (GLA) for planning per­mission. Plans to purchase the land, which was once an industrial area, are already with the GLA.  

Announcing the project, the Essel group said it represented “a major world-class visitor attraction and hotel and leisure com­plex to celebrate India’s culture and history as part of the regeneration of the Silvertown district in London”.  

Computer-generated images released 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. Its 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 will include museums and a theatre, re­tail outlets, restaurants, a botanical garden and a luxury hotel”.  

Parul Goel, spokesman for the Essel Group, said: “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.  

“The Essel Group and our design team have been in detailed discussions with the Silvertown Partnership for many months, all of which has been hugely productive and our proposal has the full support and trust of the Silvertown Partnership.  

“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.”  

The plans are said to be “the culmi­nation of a long-held ambition by Dr Subhash Chandra 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.”  

Goel added: “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 on the idea that the world is one family. People from different be­liefs, religions, countries and regions will be able to use it to hold discussions and arrive at possible solutions to current conflicts.”