Oriental City

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The lobby of Oriental City, around 1997
The Oriental City Food Court

Oriental City was a shopping centre in Colindale, London specialising in various oriental foods and items. It is located on Edgware Road, and the nearest London Underground station is Colindale tube station. It had a dedicated car park, and 2 floors. It is next door to Asda. The complex was closed for redevelopment on 1 June 2008. An application for planning extension is currently being considered by the local authority, Brent Council. Between December 2009 and April 2011, a complex similar to Oriental City traded in Wembley Retail Park, called Pacific Plaza.

Shopping centre[edit]

Oriental City was previously a Yaohan Shopping Centre; after the Yaohan Corporation filed for bankruptcy in the late 1990s, it was sold to Malaysian owners, which was when it was renamed Oriental City. Many locals and visitors still continued to refer to it as Yaohan Plaza.

In August 2014 the Oriental City building was knocked down for a full redevelopment.

Its address was: 399 Edgware Road, London, NW9 0JJ.

The centre contained a large oriental supermarket, now relocated to Bayswater, and a food court with a range of foods from different areas of South-East Asia; stalls offered Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Japanese foods including bento boxes and sushi, ramen noodles, and assorted Asian desserts. The food court was immensely popular with surrounding office workers and the North London community; and often became very crowded at weekends.

The food court was complemented by a number of oriental restaurants in the complex, with the majority of them located on the upper floor. The complex contained two Dim Sum restaurants, a Szechuan restaurant, and an 'all you can eat' restaurant. Outside, there was a durian stall and a satay stall.

Aside from the food outlets, the complex also contained a number of small shops and stalls. Over its history there was a high turnover of shops, with only one remaining original tenant in the facility, the Japanese tableware store, Utsuwa-No-Yataka. The centre also previously housed a shop selling video games and toys imported from Japan, a Sanrio boutique, and one of the largest Japanese bookshops in Europe, called Asahiya Shoten. These have been closed down since 2003. In the period shortly before the centre closed down, shoppers could find a tailor's shop, a jeweller, a hairdresser, a beauty shop, Chinese medicine shops, a martial arts store, and a large furniture store. Oriental City was also host to a Sega Dome (Later Sega Park) arcade which has been a feature since the complex's opening in 1993. The arcade's outer façade was highly noticeable for the large picture of Sonic the Hedgehog attached to it, which had been on the complex since the early 1990s.

It also boasted one of the largest Oriental supermarkets in London; The only comparable supermarkets today would be Wing Yip and the Japan Centre in Regents Street.

The centre was a focal point for the Oriental community, often hosting weeks which promoted the cultural identity of different South East Asian countries. These events typically consisted of various performing arts, and the promotion of that country's particular cuisine.

The original Yaohan Plaza also featured a small example of a traditional Japanese garden outside the centre, which was allowed to fall into disrepair after the change of ownership.

Proposed redevelopment[edit]

Facade along Edgware Road
Entrance

In November 2006, Oriental City was bought out by the developer Development Securities who planned to demolish the centre and replace it with a B&Q, a housing development and a primary school. This private business transaction was beset by delays from store owners, the East Asian community, petitions, and even interference by the Chinese Consul-General and an ex-Arsenal football player. The developer was not able to close the complex until 2008, by which time the Great Recession had soured their ability to proceed with the redevelopment.

In 2006, the developers stated that there would be provisions for the current tenants of Oriental City to continue in the new development; however, the tenants objected to this, owing to the lack of consultation. Tenants stated that the new complex would take up to 9 years to complete, contrary to Development Securities' claim that redevelopment would take 3 years. Most tenants did not believe they could survive even a temporary relocation of their businesses.[1]

Aside from business considerations, the East Asian community feared any redevelopment would mean the loss of an important community focal point. The current tenants shut their businesses for a day to protest to the council at Brent Town Hall on 21 November 2006 feeling that they had been treated like 'second class citizens'.[2] The tenants' plight was backed by a long-time visitor of the Centre, ex-Arsenal football player Ian Wright, who met the then London Mayor Ken Livingstone's planning officials in early December 2006 to object to the redevelopment plans.[3]

In February 2007, the Chinese Consul-General wrote to London's mayor to express his "deep concern" about the project, calling for the proposal to be modified.[4] This matter generated so much attention that it featured on an episode of Inside Out (London) broadcast on 23 March 2007 where Liu was featured. Finally, after a petition gathered several thousand signatures, in June 2007 it was announced that the campaign had been successful and Oriental City would remain open until at least May 2008.

Staff at Oriental City were told to close their businesses for good by 7:00 pm on Sunday 1 June 2008. Business activity was above usual during the day as thousands of people flocked to see Oriental City for the last time. Many shops had drastically reduced prices and bargains to tempt shoppers, with one shop even advertising a Buy One Get Two Free offer. The food court closed at 6:30 PM, followed shortly by other retailers in the complex before the doors were finally closed for the last time at 7:00 PM.

Some former occupants of Oriental City have reopened in new locations:

On July 31, 2008 Development Securities sold the site to a new developer, B & S Homes, for £68 million. The purchasers paid a £16 million deposit but were unable to find the £52 million required to complete their purchase. Their deposit was lost, the building went back into the hands of Development Securities, and further progress in the prevailing economic climate looked unlikely. As a result, the building remained boarded up and derelict.[5]

From early 2009, there was much talk amongst former tenants of a proposal to reopen the doors of Oriental City in its previous form later that year. Discussions were understood to be taking place between the owners and former tenants, and any definite proposals will appear here in due course. In February 2010, former tenants of Oriental City held a protest at the site over the continued closure of the centre. A campaign to re-open the centre was initiated. It has been reported that Morrison's, the supermarket chain, is interested in developing the site.(Kilburn Times, 1 March 2012)

In May 2013, planning permission was granted for a full redevelopment of the site by Development Securities with Morrisons as an anchor tenant. [6]

In August 2014 the Oriental City building was knocked down for a full redevelopment.

TV/Film Set[edit]

The centre was used as an abandoned mall in the BBC One series Luther. It appeared in the 2012 film Dredd, where it was restored to a semblance of its former glory with a Blade Runner-like makeover. It was used in the first episode of the 2011 BBC Three series The Fades. The complex appeared in 2013 during a first season episode of the BBC Two series Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe, with Brooker wandering around various parts of the derelict car park, Zen Tian Di Chinese buffet and a set of escalators. The centre was also used for the music video Bittersweet Memories by Welsh metalcore band Bullet For My Valentine [6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'Asian traders protest over plans to demolish "Oriental City"', The Independent, 17 November 2006 [1] (accessed 19 November 2006)
  2. ^ 'Campaign to save "'real Chinatown'"', BBC News, 17 November 2006 [2] (accessed 19 November 2006)
  3. ^ 'Wright backs Oriental City fight', BBC News, 4 December 2006 [3] (accessed 6 December 2006)
  4. ^ 'Beijing enters Oriental City row', BBC News, 8 February 2007 [4] (accessed 8 February 2007)
  5. ^ ‘Oriental City deal collapses’, Property Week, 31 March 2009 [5] (accessed 19 August 2009)
  6. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cW_BuQqzGs

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°35′36″N 0°15′37″W / 51.59333°N 0.26028°W / 51.59333; -0.26028