A local residents' association has launched High Court proceedings against the proposed demolition of London events centre Earls Court, declaring the redevelopment project 'unlawful'.
Plans by Capital and Counties (Capco) for the redevelopment of the 77-acre Earls Court site include demolishing the events centre to create four villages and a high street, offices and 7,500 new homes. Under Capco’s original plans, no work would begin until after the Olympics, as Earls Court is host to the Olympics volleyball competition.
Jonathan Rosenberg, a community organiser for West Kensington & Gibbs Green Tenants & Residents Associations (WK&GG) said: “There are five grounds that we have submitted to the High Court to declare the project unlawful, the first grounds being by far the strongest, which state that the Earl’s Court Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is, in substance, an Area Action Plan (AAP) and as such is a development plan document for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Local Development) (England) Regulations 2004.”
According to Rosenberg, the criteria needed to have an AAP agreed to are far harder to satisfy than those for a SPD. He added: “This is exactly the same argument that saw a judge rule against the [May 2012] Shepherd’s Bush Market Area Planning Brief – Market and Theatre Regeneration. We’re saying that as the Shepherd’s Bush site was much smaller, this argument applies even more so in our case, and thus the Earls Court SPD should be thrown out, too.”
The scenario is complicated by other factors – the owners of Earls Court are Transport for London and London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, while pieces of land in the redevelopment plans fall both within the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea.
In literature outlining its opposition, WK&GG said: "Earl’s Court brings 2.5 million visitors, 30,000 exhibitors, hundreds of events, and over a billion pounds a year to London. It sustains thousands of jobs; it’s an anchor for London’s West End economy; it’s the most dearly-loved creative and business venue, locally, nationally, and globally. Centrally located and close to Heathrow, Earl’s Court is an essential international marketing platform for thousands of small businesses and world brands. East London’s Excel is not suitable for most of the Earl’s Court shows."
The WK&GG, calling themselves 'the people's estates' also object to the demolition of residents' homes, which, they say, "should not be sacrificed for the profits of a billion pound developer".
Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea councils say they are still considering their response to the claim.