Boris signs off Earls Court demolition

Yesterday afternoon, Boris Johnson ignored pleas to save iconic art deco exhibition space that supports thousands of jobs and brings £1 billion to the London economy.

Yesterday afternoon, Boris Johnson paid no heed to calls from residents to protect their close-knit estate, with high-quality flats and tidy homes with nice gardens.

Yesterday afternoon, Boris Johnson plowed through with a decision despite serious concerns that his dual roles as chair of TfL and as London’s planning authority raise a potential conflict of interest when that decision could mean a windfall for TfL.

Yesterday afternoon, Boris Johnson rejected the argument that huge decisions shouldn’t be made before all the facts are in about the consequences of those decisions on the economy.

Yesterday afternoon, Boris Johnson overlooked the fact that Transport for London still hasn’t identified a suitable relocation for an important depot where upwards of 550 people work manufacturing bespoke parts for London Underground.

Mayor Boris Johnson ignored all these concerns and many more yesterday afternoon, when he waved through plans allowing the demolition of Earls Court and the destruction of the nearby communities of West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates, to be replaced by 7,600 primarily luxury flats in Canary Wharf-style skyscrapers.

Residents activists and politicians, including myself, have been campaigning to block the controversial £8bn redevelopment of Earls Court

Residents activists and politicians, including myself, have been campaigning to block the controversial £8bn redevelopment of Earls Court

I have been campaigning on this issue for years, working with residents, activists, industry representatives, and others to Save Earls Court. As recently as this week, when it was clear that we should imminently expect the Mayor’s decision on whether to uphold the local authorities’ approval, I joined a cross-party group of Assembly Members to send Boris a letter asking him to defer until all the facts are in. But he ignored this call and so many others, and all the arguments about the consequences for the economy and for the homes of hundreds of people, when he waved through this controversial redevelopment.

The story isn’t over yet. Secretary of State Eric Pickles has put a “hold” on the applications, meaning that he has three weeks to decide whether to allow the decisions to stand or to launch an enquiry. I will be in touch with the Secretary to urge him on the second course of action.

In the meantime, I released the following press release expressing my deep disappointment at this flawed and destructive decision.

LONDONASSEMBLYLABOUR
press office: 020 7983 4952

news release
04.07.2013
Immediate release

Boris signs off Earls Court demolition

Mayor of London Boris Johnson signed off the demolition of Earls Court yesterday, amid fears it will have a negative impact on the local economy. London Assembly Member Nicky Gavron made a last attempt earlier this week (see below) to lobby Boris to block the controversial £8 billion redevelopment but despite opposition from local residents and politicians the Mayor signed off the application.

The planning application was approved by both the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham councils. The Mayor waved through the decision as he assesses all applications of strategic importance to ensure they are compliant with the London Plan.

Transport for London (TfL) which the Mayor chairs, is a major landholder on the development site and stands to make substantial gains when the project goes ahead. Despite this apparent conflict of interest through his role at TfL, Boris did not delegate the decision he can make under his planning powers.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles was asked by Nicky Gavron AM and others to call in the decision. He refused to take over the decision but did place a hold on the application. Now that the Mayor has signed off on the decision, the Secretary of State has three weeks to decide whether to let the decision stand or to launch an enquiry.

Residents have expressed their alarm at the destruction of their well-established community on the Gibbs Green and West Kensington estates. The redevelopment would see the demolition of 760 homes, and there remains uncertainty about remaining the current residents.

London Assembly Labour Group Planning Spokesperson, Nicky Gavron AM, said:
“The Mayor waved through the demolition of a world-renowned exhibition space and the destruction of a close-knit established community at Earls Court. The redevelopment of Earls Court will cost thousands of jobs in the exhibitions industry as well as to the local and national economy. Earls Court contributes £1 billion a year and brings 2.5 million visitors and 30,000 exhibitors to West London.

“Boris has agreed to the knocking down of Earls Court for short-term gains for TfL. This shows a complete disregard for local people and the local economy.”

Ends

Notes

1. Nicky Gavron is a London-wide member of the London Assembly

2. Developer EC Properties LP plan to build 7,600 primarily luxury flats in Canary Wharf-style skyscrapers would see the demolition of the art deco Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre and the well-established communities of Gibbs Green and West Kensington estates.

3. Earlier this week, Nicky Gavron joined a cross-party group of Assembly calling on the Mayor’s planning decision to deferred pending a full assessment of the economic impact of the loss of exhibition space and pending the December 2013 publication of a report from Transport for London (TfL) identifying a suitable replacement for the Lillie Bridge Depot, an important facility on the site manufacturing bespoke track components for London Underground.

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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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2 Responses to Boris signs off Earls Court demolition

  1. Pingback: I’ll be on LBC97.3 talking about Earls Court demolition | Nicky Gavron AM

  2. Pingback: Save Earls Court debate in Parliament | Nicky Gavron AM

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