London Mayor Boris Johnson has made a string of recommendations to the property owners behind the controversial redevelopment of Earls Court after their masterplan failed to meet the capital’s planning requirements.
Earls Court (EC) Properties’ masterplan for the 77-acre Earls Court Opportunity Area (ECOA) must pass through the mayor’s office to comply with the government’s strategic London Plan in order to gain approval.
The masterplan has been broken into two complementary applications submitted simultaneously for approval. In a letter seen by EN dated 7 December, the mayor rejected both on the grounds that they did not meet 44 policies in the London Plan including affordable housing provision, children’s play areas, design, transport and urban design.
However the mayor offered assistance to the developers by suggesting discussions with his planning officers to meet the capital’s standards. The letter also makes clear the Earls Court exhibition centres do not figure highly in the area.
“Development plan policy for the area does not require the retention of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre,” the mayor stated. “The applicant is investing in the Olympia Exhibition Centre, also in its ownership, to significantly improve this facility and intends to decant suitable events to this venue prior to the closure of the Earls Court exhibition centres.”
A spokesperson for EC Properties welcomed the Greater London Authority (GLA) report and feedback on its plans and said it didn’t expect the decision to create any delays.
EC Properties is the combined face of Earls Court site owners Capital and Counties, Transport for London and London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF). The redevelopment also affects the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC).
“As is usual for a Stage 1 report, GLA identifies areas they would like us to look at again. We are happy to do so,” the EC Properties spokesperson told EN. “We are shortly submitting revisions to the masterplan as is normal for an application of this size, and these revisions will take the comments of the GLA into account. They will be consulted on in the new year.
“Terry Farrell’s ‘four village villages and a high street’ masterplan covers an Opportunity Area in the London Plan and delivers on the objectives of that plan with proposals for 7,500 new homes and 12,000 new jobs for London. It also takes into account local planning policy in the LBHF and RBKC.”
Local residents were delighted with news that the application for Earls Court had been found in breach of the London Plan.
"It's vindication of our campaign and everything that we've done [to fight the redevelopment plans],” community organiser Jonathan Rosenberg said. “The mayor has confirmed what Professor Drew Stevenson [who worked on the original London Plan] said about the multitude of breaches of the London Plan and we call on the mayor to support our call for a vote and to visit the residents on their estates.”
Residents affected by the redevelopment plans have until 23 December to comment on the latest ‘Supplementary Planning Document’ (SPD) for the West Kensington Opportunity Area. The consultation, promoted by RKBC, LBHF and the Mayor of London follows initial public consultation on the first draft in March.
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