Should it be approved by April 2011, the proposed masterplan would see Earls Court 1 bulldozed in Q3, 2012 as part of the second of seven phases of redevelopment of the ECOA site.
AEO chief executive Austen Hawkins said the association was planning to lobby the London Mayor and local and national governments to stop the plans from coming to fruition.
“The plans to destroy London’s major West End exhibition centre will have disastrous consequences on not only the UK exhibition industry but also on the national and local economy,” he claimed.
“The figures speak for themselves: Earls Court is at the heart of London’s West End and attracts more than 2.5m visitors, 30,000 exhibiting companies and hundreds of events per year. Together with Olympia it supports £258m of expenditure in their boroughs and over £1.25bn in the London region, and accounted for [directly and indirectly] over 1,000 jobs in the boroughs and around 12,500 in London. One in two Londoners visits the venues every year.
“The loss of Earls Court and the resultant reduction in overseas exhibitors, conferences and business tourists visiting the UK will cost the country billions in lost revenue when we need it most.”
Hawkins also pointed out the demolition of Earls Court was planned at a time when other capital cities were investing in their exhibition space.
“They recognise the enormous economic value exhibitions and events bring to their cities and country; it is extremely worrying that the current plans will see London fall behind the rest of the world in this area,” he continued.
“At peak times exhibition space within Central and West London has reached capacity, it goes without saying that the loss of Earls Court will hugely reduce already stretched capacity and this will have a negative impact on the UK exhibition and events industry.”
AEO chairman Doug Emslie echoed Hawkin’s sentiments, pointing out the Olympic Games was proof of the importance of live events to the UK’s economy.
“The UK’s successful Olympic bid was based on its legacy commitment; however there are now plans to knock down one of the venues hosting the Olympics, a legacy of destruction,” he said.
“UK exhibition organisers lead the world in innovation and geo-cloning of exhibitions, yet the industry receives less governmental support than most other countries with sizable economies.”