Earls Court Exhibition Centre to be demolished and replaced with thousands of new homes
Ben Ross is Head of Travel at The Independent. He has worked for the paper for over a decade, and began reporting on travel in 2001. Before joining the travel desk full time, he ran The Independent's special projects department. He started his journalistic career at the BBC working for its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.
Wednesday 21 November 2012
A plan to demolish Earls Court Exhibition Centre and replace it with thousands of new homes has been approved.
Developers say they want to turn the 77-acre site into a "new London district" by creating four "urban villages" and a "21st century high street".
The plans are based on designs by architect Sir Terry Farrell and would create 7,500 houses and 12,000 permanent full-time jobs, according to developers Capital & Counties Properties PLC (Capco).
Kensington and Chelsea council's planning committee approved the plans late last night following Hammersmith and Fulham's green light on planning permission in September. The scheme straddles both west London boroughs.
Ian Hawksworth, chief executive of Capco, said: "We are delighted that the Earls Court masterplan has now been approved by both.
"The project has real momentum and we look forward to working with the local authorities to deliver Sir Terry's vision for a new urban quarter in this exciting part of London."
Earls Court Exhibition Centre opened in 1937 and followed a tradition of entertainment at the site.
In the late 19th century an entrepreneur called John Robinson Whitley set up Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show at the site and created a 300ft observation wheel, according to the venue's website.
The centre opened its doors to the public with a chocolate and confectionery exhibition, but over the decades it has hosted concerts by some of music's biggest names, including Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, Queen and the Spice Girls.
This summer the venue was used to host volleyball events as part of the London 2012 Olympics.
Earls Court One and Earls Court Two, opened in 1991, will both be demolished as part of the 20-year redevelopment of the site.
The plan also takes in housing estates in West Kensington and Gibbs Green as well as Seagrave Road car park and Lillie Bridge railway depot.
Capco is waiting for land agreements from Hammersmith and Fulham - agreed in principle - and Transport for London.
A spokesman for the company acknowledged there had been some protest from local communities and pledged to engage with them.
"It is fair to say that this is a huge development - 77 acres, 7,500 homes - and there has been some concern from some local residents," the spokesman said.
"There has also been a lot of support from others. I am sure there will remain concerns, I am sure they have not gone away last night.
"But our job now is to demonstrate to those communities that we are good to our word in the commitments we have made to them and we engage them in the process going forward."
Councillor Paul Warrick, who chaired last night's Kensington and Chelsea planning committee meeting, said: "Redeveloping Earls Court to provide much-needed housing and other uses has been our policy for many years.
"On both sides of the border (with Hammersmith and Fulham) we hope that the granting of this planning application will make Earls Court a more desirable place to live with less congestion and more opportunity for work, commerce and leisure."
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