The approval of plans to demolish Earls Court Exhibition Centre will have a ‘massive effect’ on the events industry, including driving up rates for London venues as demand exceeds supply, according to Karim Halwagi, chief executive officer of the Association of Event Organisers.
His comments follow The London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s decision to approve the Capital & Counties Properties (Capco) proposal to redevelop the Earls Court site to make way for four ‘villages’ encompassing a high street, offices and 7,500 new homes. Exhibition centres Earls Court One and Earls Court Two will both be demolished as part of the 20-year redevelopment of the site.
Halwagi told meetpie.com: “As an industry, we need more venue space, not less, especially in London. The government pushed the Olympics as the greatest event in the world and clearly stated that events are important – and this is their response.
“From a global viewpoint, Earls Court is still the recognised London venue, for its heritage and reputation, and that is being drastically ignored. Decisions are being driven by commerce.
“The bigger picture is that the scheme will not just have a direct impact of the events industry but also a massive indirect effect, too. If the development lasts 30 years, then absolutely nothing will happen in the events industry in that area. As for rates across London, supply and demand will dictate that. No Earls Court, less supply.”
Halwagi is also concerned that this would mean smaller supplies will be marginalised to the benefit of larger ones in “a dampening of entrepreneurial spirit.”
As reported in meetpie.com in July, a local residents’ association, West Kensington & Gibbs Green Tenants & Residents Associations (WK&GG), has launched proceedings against the proposed demolition, declaring the redevelopment project “unlawful.”
Jonathan Rosenberg, a community organiser for WK&GG, said: “Last night’s decision completes the alignment of residents and businesses who will be damaged by this greedy scheme. The destruction of trade and industry, the loss of thousands of jobs and the demolition of such an iconic part of our heritage in favour of luxury flats is a disgrace. Council tenants, Kensington residents and the exhibitions and events industry are united: we shall stop this scheme.”
Capco is now awaiting final land agreements from the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham - agreed in principle - and Transport for London. A spokesman acknowledged there had been some protest from local communities and pledged to engage with them.
Pictured: Karim Halwagi