Fury over Mayor's Green Light for Earls Court Redevelopment

Politicians and RMT Union pledge to step up fight against "social cleansing"

There have been angry reactions to London Mayor Boris Johnson's decision made yesterday, July 3 to give the go ahead for the highly controversial £8 billion redevelopment project around Earls Court.

The project, by developer Capital and Counties or CapCo, will mean the demolition of two estates, West Kensington and Gibbs Green, which are home to around 2,000 people living in 761 homes, as well as the famous Earl Court Exhibition Centres.

The application has already been approved by Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea Councils but the final say was with the Mayor.

The Mayor's announcement described the development as "a huge boost for jobs, housing and infrastructure in this part of the capital" and said that the plans for the 32 hectare site will see the development of more than 6,700 homes and a raft of infrastructure and public realm improvements over a 20 year construction period.

It is expected that the scheme could generate 36,000 jobs in construction as well as a further 9,000 to 10,000 permanent jobs in the longer term. 

Boris Johnson said: "I’m in no doubt that the development proposed for Earls Court and West Kensington will provide a massive boost not just to this part of the capital, but to London’s wider economy as well. It is a landmark project that will deliver much needed jobs, new homes and improved infrastructure and will make this strategically important part of the capital an even better to place to live, work and visit.

He added: " I am acutely aware of the concerns that some residents affected by the project have but I’m reassured by the measures being taken by both councils and the developer to make sure the needs of local people are properly addressed. Having weighed up all of the considerations I'm of the firm view that this is a project that will deliver huge benefits to the area and beyond for years to come." 

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter said he would be demanding the the Secretary of State call in the application for Public Inquiry in view of its size, controversy and the conflicts of interest of local politicians.

He added: " Earl’s Court/West Ken is the Tories’ biggest social engineering project, uprooting thousands of low income Londoners and replacing them with ten times the number of high –rise luxury flats for overseas and City investors.

" As planning authorities, the Tory Mayor and councils have torn up the rule book to help their developer friends, and as landowners they have sweetened the deal with hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money. This is ideology and gerrymandering corrupting local government as never before."

 London Green Party Assembly Member Darren Johnson said: "Boris Johnson claims to be a champion of the London economy and making it more attractive to foreign investment. Yet he has backed the demolition of the exhibition centres that are estimated to be worth over a billion pound to London’s real economy, that attract one a half million visitors from across London and the world, thirty thousand exhibitors and hundreds of events each year. This decision will definitely see London lose out to global rivals.

" By backing this proposal, Boris Johnson is condemning this part of London into a playground for the super rich with mostly extortionately priced homes that will not help the vast majority of ordinary people."

London Assembly Labour Group Planning Spokesperson, Nicky Gavron AM, said: "The Mayor waved through the demolition of a world-renowned exhibition space and the destruction of a close-knit established community at Earls Court. The redevelopment of Earls Court will cost thousands of jobs in the exhibitions industry as well as to the local and national economy. Earls Court contributes £1 billion a year and brings 2.5 million visitors and 30,000 exhibitors to West London.

" Boris has agreed to the knocking down of Earls Court for short-term gains for TfL. This shows a complete disregard for local people and the local economy."

Tube union RMT today pledged to step up the fight to stop the carve up of the Lillie Bridge tube maintenance depot, which is on land owned by Transport for London, who have yet to agree a deal on selling it.

Following rumours that Chelsea Football Club were interested in moving their ground to the site - which the club have denied - the RMT demanded immediate assurances from London Underground that there would be no threat to the jobs and safety-critical work at Lillie Bridge.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: " RMT is wholly opposed to any interference with the Lillie Bridge tube maintenance depot as part of the yuppiefication of West London, the union is also deeply concerned about the potential impact on jobs and the loss of safety-critical maintenance capacity.

“This whole ill-conceived plan, which includes the social cleansing of Earls Court in favour on penthouse apartments for the super-rich, must be stopped and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the campaign to force Boris Johnson to turn back the proposals. This is the mayor sending out the signal that he is only interested in the demands of speculators and Russian billionaires."

Last week Boris Johnson came face to face with protestors from the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates who are worried about losing their homes which will be demolished to make way for the new scheme.

Developer CapCo is now inviting residents of the estates to an exhibition at East Court from July 8 - 10 where it will show off its "phasing plan" for moving residents to new homes in what it calls "North End Village". Find out more about the exhibition here.


July 4, 2013


July 4, 2013