Save Oriental City!

**Update – August 20, 2007**
I went to Oriental City at the weekend to see what was happening with the proposed closure (and to eat a big bowl of char kway teow). There’s some less bleak news at the moment – the various leaseholders at the property have managed to get an interlocutory injunction allowing the place to stay open pending a court case against the developers. There’s no set date for the court case yet – watch this space for more news.

I’ve written about Oriental City here a couple of times before. It’s a vibrant, loud, shopping and community centre in suburban north London, and is host to a number of south-east Asian shops including a wonderful supermarket and more sources of lucky porcelain cats than you can shake a chopstick at.

Oriental City’s biggest draw for me has always been its jaw-dropping foodcourt. About thirty kiosks grouped around a vast room of tables sell street food from all over Asia – you can eat Vietnamese, Korean, Malay, Tamil, Cantonese and Thai food, and accompany it with a large heap of sushi. Outside, they’re grilling satay and halving durians. The food is wonderfully authentic and inexpensive. I’ll happily drive the 60 miles to get there for a few hour’s kaffir lime-scented bliss.

As I’ve mentioned before, Oriental City is under threat from developers, who wish to turn it into luxury flats and a DIY store. This is a terrible shame – London is bristling with flats and DIY centres, but there’s nowhere else you can go to learn to lion dance, have an acupressure massage, buy a pack of ducks’ tongues and eat a big bowl of mee goreng all at the same time. Oriental City is a magnet for families like mine, and it’s an important cultural asset in this homogeneous and grey part of London. It’s somewhere where people from a number of communities can come and socialise, work, eat and shop.

The bulldozers are booked to roll in, and a trader I spoke to at the food court said they expect the place to close late this summer. The Chinese Embassy has raised the issue with the Mayor of London, people like Ian Wright (ex-footballer, chat show host) have been campaigning against the closure. Sadly, the Mayor chose not to give weight to the objections, and gave the go-ahead to redevelopment plans last month.

Redevelopment will disrupt and probably destroy 40 businesses, which employ 800 people. No provisions have been made by the developers to rehouse these businesses (as was their original suggestion) for the three years they plan to build for. The community facilities at Oriental City will also become defunct. And there won’t be anywhere to buy satay and durians any more.

There’s an online petition directed at Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Communities, asking for a public inquiry into the closure of the centre. Please take a moment to sign it, and consider visiting Oriental City for the afternoon while you still can. It’s about 300m from Colindale tube station, just off the Edgware Road.

12 Replies to “Save Oriental City!”

  1. Please take a minute to sign this petition. A case of greed destroying a unique meeting place for so many people. There will never be anything set up to replace it as it would not be cost effective.

  2. I just signed: to my shame I haven’t been yet, but I would hate to think of anything so diverse, interesting and generally great being destroyed for an out-of-town shopping centre. Or a supercasino…

    Like the new rearrangement, by the way: very nifty!

  3. I’ve signed. I love Oriental City – great Japanese hardware, and as you say, a brilliant food court. Thanks for informing us on this, I knew of the closure plans but thought all the businesses were to be relocated nearby. Now I understand why Wing Yip on Edgeware Road (near Staples Corner/North Circular) is expanding so massively – they must be hoping to pick up shoppers who would have gone to OC.

  4. I’ve noticed allot of Chinese food on your site. I’m currently living in the north east of China and I was wondering if you’ve had the chance to visit the country and taste the really authentic food.

    On an aside, it’s a same I only found out about this place when it’s closing. I’d have gone there back in Feb when I was back home briefly, now I’ll never see it.

  5. Derek – there’s a lot of Chinese food on this site because I’m half-Chinese. My Dad’s from China, but he moved to Malaysia when he was 7, and that’s where that part of the family lives now. I’ve never been fortunate enough to go to China (although it’s somewhere I do plan to visit), but we do go to Malaysia and eat authentically there pretty frequently!

  6. The closure of Oriental city is just another sign of blatant racism against the Oriental community. Had it been any other race, all would’ve thought twice. Writing airy fairy speeches including deep regrets and sympathies do sod all, especially when your house will probably be redecorated free of charge by an up and comin B & Q while all these business people will have to start again from scratch. Real dimwits will start whinging, well they have Chinatown so why are they complaining. Because China’s not the only country in the Orient that’s why! But I’ve yet to see all the Oriental communities in London unite and fight against such sickening and legalised prejudice. And perhaps that’s where a huge part of the problem lies.

  7. I’ve just found out that Ken Livingstone has given the go ahead to demolish Oriental City in North London to turn it into a soulless ugly B&Q; and apartment block consisting of 500 “affordable” properties.

    London is becoming a lifeless, soulless, characterless boring city, trying to hard to modernise.

    What makes a great city is it’s residents and their culture and most importantly their food!

    However, Ken Livingstone is powerless when it comes taking on the might of the Building Developers and Financiers that run the city (and country).

  8. nosgehI drove 40 miles (!) to eat at that place (Sun 14th June) but when we took the usual road into the car park behind ASDA only to find the entrance to car park closed! We jsut turned back home *sad* ..Has it really been closed down now?

  9. Yes it has been closed, we did the same. We knew the place will close around June but didn’t know when. Just tried on same 14th of June, and saw the place was completely closed and quiet. My hungry 10y son was almost crying at our back sheet…
    Wiki stated the OC super market will open at another place. If any one finds out exact the location, please post it here!

  10. I didn’t realize that Oriental city was closing. I only go every few months. And turned up today hoping for a late lunch and a bit of shopping and was shocked to find the car park locked with a sign saying closed for demolition. Had to drive all the way home to get lunch 🙁


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