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Exhibition News September 2014
September 2014

Updated: CapCo gains Earls Court masterplan approval, exhibition centres under threat
posted on: 13/9/2012 08:16:36
earls court masterplan housing

Earls Court exhibition centres owner and property developer Capital and Counties (CapCo) has been granted outline planning permission by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) council that will see Earls Court demolished to make way for 7,500 new homes across the site.

Approval was given during a planning meeting held by the council in Hammersmith on 12 September established specifically to debate the site’s future. The masterplan, created for CapCo and other site owners, Transport for London and LBHF, is based around four distinct villages and a high street, covering more than 930,000sqm in total. The development includes mansion blocks, tall buildings, garden squares, commercial and retail zones and open space but does not include any replacement exhibition space in the area.

LBHF’s resolution to grant consent comes a week after the council approved a land sale agreement to purchase homes across the Earls Court estate to make way for redevelopment.

“We are pleased by the council’s decision to pass the resolution to grant outline planning consent for the Earls Court Masterplan,” CapCo chief executive Ian Hawksworth stated. “The proposed scheme will offer a multi-billion pound investment in both London and the local community creating thousands of new homes and jobs.”

The decision to approve the plans came against backlash from local residents living on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates, who turned out in force at the planning meeting in the hope of further raising their concerns against redevelopment.

It also comes despite the Association of Event Organisers’ plea to consider the economic value and importance of the exhibition industry, reliant on sufficient exhibition space in West London.

AEO chief executive Karim Halwagi told EN the decision to approve the plans showed a clear lack of understanding of the events industry as well as a lack of desire to engage to further that knowledge.

“The planning committee meeting was more concerned about the terracotta and glass designs used then the real issues of the events industry and the residents’ association,”he said. “The similarity in comments presented by the planning committee compared with what has been said in other quarters almost sound like they come from a script – there doesn’t appear to be any independent thought on this at all.

“It would be interesting to see the economic benefits over the next 16 years or more of build, compared with the existing and clearly demonstrable revenues already generated by Earls Court Exhibition Centres. With the councils’ support, Earls Court could continue to generate these revenues and more over the next 100 years.”

As an example and as part of the AEO’s statement on the economic value of Earls Court, Halwagi pointed to the venue’s largest consumer show, the Ideal Home Show, which generates £200m in spending over a fortnight. During the planning committee, councillors were advised exhibitions could be relocated to recently redeveloped Olympia, or accommodated at Excel London or The NEC in Birmingham.

“Yes Ideal could be squeezed into Olympia, but it wouldn’t be able to grow and it couldn’t accommodate the 250,000 visitors it attracts currently,” Halwagi continued.

“It’s a huge disappointment, but we will carry on. It’s not over til it’s over.”

The next crucial stage forward in the masterplan’s realisation is approval from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which has scheduled a similar planning meeting to discuss CapCo’s masterplan in late October.

“EC&O Venues can confirm that the London Borough of Hammersmith (LBHF) and Fulham Council has given a resolution to grant consent for the outline planning application for the Earls Court masterplan," said EC&O spokeswoman Claire Kenton.

"This decision refers to the LBHF land within the Opportunity Area and incorporates the land upon which Earls Court Two sits. At present there is no planned closure date for Earls Court.”

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