H&F Council Leader Responds to Criticism over Earls Court Plans

Says "too late" to save exhibition centre but still opposes schemes for estates

Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council has responded to criticism by the Earls Court Action Group of the council's decision to approve Demolition and Waste Management plans for Earls Court Exhibition Centre.

The group called the council's decision, made behind closed doors as "deeply disappointing".

In his statement, published on his blog The Cowan Report Cllr Cowan admits it is too late to stop the demolition of the exhibition centre, but says the new Labour administration is still committed to protecting residents of the threatened Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates.

He says: " In the wake of the decision around the Earls Court waste removal plan, there have been all sorts of comments flying around about this new administration's approach to the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates and the Earls Court development. There are legal limits to what I can say but I wanted to set out where we are.

" I know there is a lot of anxiousness about this development and I appreciate that it's difficult for some to trust any politician to do what they said they'd do - especially now that many believe all politicians are just like Nick Clegg. 

" But we remain determined to achieve what we said we’d do when we wrote into our manifesto that we ' oppose the schemes for West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates' and
 'aim to re-negotiate'  them. We are making some progress with what are difficult and very complicated negotiations.

" The demolition of Earls Court was put together by the Conservatives and is supported by London's Conservative Mayor and the Conservative/Lib Dem government. It already had planning permission and indeed, much of the land was sold and is now owned by the developer.

" We opposed the demolition of Earls Court at the time  and still do but it is now too late for this new administration to do anything to stop that aspect of this scheme. The Earls Court demolition waste removal decision was largely a matter for Kensington and Chelsea Council and it certainly did not give us an opportunity to turn the clock back or halt the scheme.

" We will make a more substantive announcement as soon as we can."

October 15, 2014