Labour Assembly Member says demolition will be "huge set back" for London
Mayor of London Boris Johnson is coming under increasing pressure to reject proposals to Earls Court exhibition centres and adjoining areas, according to Labour London Assembly Planning Spokesperson Nicky Gavron.
The controversial £8billion redevelopment, which is bitterly opposed by residents of the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates, which would be demolished if the plan goes ahead, was approved by Kensington and Chelsea’s Planning Committee two weeks ago and by Hammersmith annd Fulham Council in September.
In his role as London’s planning authority, the next step is for the Mayor to decide whether to support or reject these proposals.
Nicky Gavron points out that as Chair of Transport for London, the Mayor is also the landowner of the site.
Ms Gavron also points out that Earls Court is a cornerstone of the UK’s exhibition industry, contributing £1 billion a year to the local economy and bringing 2,5 million visitors and 30,000 exhibitor to the areas.
Numerous organisations and individuals wrote to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles MP, in September asking him to call in the applications and decide to future of the exhibition centres himself. These include the Association of Event Organisers, local residents groups and local Member of Parliament Andy Slaughter.
The Secretary of State has yet to decide whether to call in the proposals, which would see 700 homes on the local estates demolished the the community broken up.
"Losing Earls Court would be a huge set back for the London and UK economy," says Ms Gavron. Earls Court brings in £1 billion a year, provides a shop window for UK industries and sustains thousands of long-term jobs in the local area.
"This economic benefit cannot and will not be replaced by a one-off construction project.
"The Mayor has just returned from a trip to India trying to attract investment into London. Yet, within the next couple of weeks he may remove one of London’s best shop windows for promoting national industries.
"Boris Johnson instigated the redevelopment of Earls Court by designating it an Opportunity Area. As Chair of Transport for London he owns the land and as Mayor he is currently due to make the final decision on the planning application.
"There is no evidence that London needs less exhibition space. Britain’s competitors are currently expanding their own capacity because they understand the economic benefits these centres create. If the Mayor allows this proposal to go ahead he will be losing a £1 billion a year contribution to the economy and will be damaging the UK's economic competitiveness."
Residents from West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates have also been granted a judicial review of the process. You can read about this and about their fight to save their homes here.
December 7, 2012