"The Future of Earls Court is in Boris Johnson's Hands"

Residents challenge Mayor about his imminent planning decision

London Mayor Boris Johnson found himself surrounded on Tuesday by West Kensington residents, activists and politicians calling on him to block the controversial redevelopment of Earls Court.

Interrupted by the protestors in the middle of an unrelated press conference, the Mayor said he "couldn't make any promises" to residents of West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates who are worried about losing their homes, which would be demolished as part of the £8 billion redevelopment.

The redevelopment would also mean the loss of Earls Court Exhibition Centres, which currently contribute around £1 billion a year to the local economy and bring 2.5 million visitors and 30,000 exhibitors to West London.

Transport for London, which the Mayor chairs, is a major landholder on the development site and stands to make a windfall when the project goes ahead.

London Assembly Labour Group say that, despite this interest through his role at TfL, the Mayor has refused to delegate the decision he can make under his planning powers.

The group says that when confronted by the residents, the Mayor initially refused to accept their box of postcards and petition. He reluctantly took them when Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter asked: "Are you refusing to take a letter signed by my constituents?"

The MP also delivered his own submission to the Mayor urging him to direct that permission be refused, and saying: " It is both inappropriate for the area and improperly brought forward."

You can read the submission in full here.

Nicky Gavron, London Assembly Labour Group Planning Spokesperson says: "Waving this through would be irresponsibility of the highest degree. It’s short-termism of the worst sort: knocking down Earls Court for short-term gains for TfL at the same time as destroying a whole community. This is the very opposite of regeneration – it’s actually a wholesale redevelopment with complete disregard for local people and the local economy.

"This isn’t any old estate. It’s a well-maintained neighbourhood of high-quality spacious flats and houses, many with gardens, and a very well-established mixed-tenure local community.

" Earls Court is the cornerstone of the UK exhibition industry. The centres, currently contribute £1 billion a year to the local economy and bring 2.5 million visitors and 30,000 exhibitors to West London If Boris waves through this demolition it means a decrease in London’s capacity at a time when, globally, cities are increasing theirs."

Planning applications for the redevelopment have been approved by the two local councils, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea and it is now up to the Mayor to decide whether to direct refusal or let it go ahead. His decision is required by the end of next week.


June 26, 2013