Earls Court’s Future in the Balance

Astonishingly, the Mayor just decided that the iconic Earls Court exhibition centre is no longer needed and should be demolished.

This issue has attracted few column inches and little publicity. But, as a result of the Mayor’s response to the Stage I planning application for the Earls Court Opportunity Area, the future of this flourishing centre hangs in the balance.

Losing Earls Court would be a massive set back for London’s economy, as well as the economy in the local area.

The exhibition industries are highly valuable to cities and demolishing Earls Court will mean London is even less able to compete with the rest of Europe in this sector – Olympia is too small and the ExCel in the wrong location for many events.

Demolition would mean that London is decreasing capacity at a time when, globally, cities are increasing it. This is despite the fact that when ExCel was built we all knew we still needed more capacity in West London to meet international demand.

Collectively, Earls Court and Olympia contribute £1.25bn to the London economy and supports thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly.  If the Mayor doesn’t secure the future of Earls Court, not only will London lose this famous landmark, Boris will be damaging jobs and growth in London.

You can read a great article about the proposed demolition of Earls Court below (also available online here).

Other useful reading includes the transcript of the scrutiny undertaken by the Planning and Housing Committee in November here and the various articles written by Dave Hill, most notably here and here.

Mayor’s Earls Court comments spark industry uproar

Rachel Bull, 19 December 2011 – Events Magazine

The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) is calling on London Mayor Boris Johnson to re-think his comments that Earls Court Exhibition Centre is “not required”.

AEO chief executive Karim Halwagi said Boris’s plan to possibly replace Earls Court with luxury flats is “economic madness”.

“It will potentially extinguish the events industry in Earls Court, and hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs will go with it. Earls Court and Olympia support £1.25bn spending in the London region alone. In the international exhibition market, London is already falling way behind rival cities such as Vienna, Barcelona, Berlin and Paris. This decision will make matters worse.”

The comments formed part of a report issued by the Greater London Authority on 7 December.

Capital and Counties (Capco), the company that owns the site, is planning to bulldoze the exhibition centre and begin building commercial and residential property in its place as early as the end of next year.

AEO began lobbying the government to prevent the move in May. It claims the closure will have grave consequences for the UK events industry, and will jeopardise established Earls Court events.

The association is urging the Mayor to enter into discussions with the events industry so that he can fully understand the implications of his decision.

AEO chairman Stephen Brooks said:

“The negative social and economic impacts of closure are enormous and hopelessly understated in the planning application.”

The Ideal Home Show marketing director Rob Nathan, at Media 10, said he thinks the Mayor has not understood the gravity of the situation.

“The closure of Earls Court is a huge risk to our business; why curtail an event that’s flourishing at the height of a recession? We had 270,000 visitors last year and are looking to expand, but no other suitable arena can handle this level of capacity.”

London Assembly Labour Group Spokesperson for Planning and Housing, Nicky Gavron, said demolishing the venue will mean London will be even less able to compete with the rest of Europe. “[The Mayor] should be standing up for Earls Court Exhibition Centre, not washing his hands of it.”

A spokesperson from City Hall was not available to comment at the time of going to press.

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About nickygavron

Former Deputy Mayor for London, London Assembly Member, Chair of Planning Committee, and Labour Spokesperson for Planning
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3 Responses to Earls Court’s Future in the Balance

  1. Tory Boris Johnson Earls Court comments spark industry uproar

  2. So what will happen in EC goes? Exhibition industry will be pushed over to Excel which just happens to be beside Boris’s big white elephant – The Cable Car.

  3. Des Elmes says:

    Reading Dave Hill’s articles, one gets the impression that Boris is either contradicting himself here, or he’s done a sudden U-turn…

    He is a crazy fellow, is Boris.

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