Article taken from Exhibition News, posted on 22/11/2012 at 10:18:51
Available here: http://www.exhibitionnews.co.uk/newsdetails/2677/aeo-rails-against-council-decision-to-demolish-earls-court
AEO RAILS AGAINST COUNCIL DECISION TO DEMOLISH EARLS COURT
The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) has called on the industry to shout louder about the loss of Earls Court if we are to have any chance of securing adequate space for exhibitions in the future.
Its comments followed the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s (RBKC) decision on 20 November to approve plans for Earls Court’s demolition to make way for four new residential districts and 7,500 homes.
Developer Capital and Counties’ masterplan application was approved by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in September.
AEO chief executive Karim Halwagi responded angrily to RBKC’s decision, labelling it a “foregone conclusion” and railing against the loss of one of London’s largest exhibition venues. He said the association will keep up the fight against demolition by repositioning its message, hitting wider communication channels, and working alongside residents and local businesses.
The Earls Court Opportunity Area masterplan will now be subject to a second review by the Greater London Authority, which is expected to take several weeks. It is also facing several judicial reviews and a legal challenge instigated by local residents.
“This demonstrates a lack of integrity from local government and a rejection of the importance of our industry,” he told EN. “The irony of the London Plan is that it is showing disrespect for London and for the exhibition business community.
“They are ignoring the loss of direct and indirect expenditure from exhibitions both over the next 20, 30 years of redevelopment as well as long-term, which is huge.”
Halwagi also called on RBKC to back up its comment that it will provide ‘appropriate and proportionate measures to mitigate the impact of the loss of the exhibition centre on business and employment’.
“People in the borough are not fully aware of these plans or how long the area will be a construction site,” he added. “There has been minimal communication to push this through against the wishes of local residents and our industry and that says a lot about this project.”
The AEO will continue to campaign against Earls Court’s closure until the last possible moment, Halwagi said, but needed the support of members and the industry to get the message out there.
“If the need for further space isn’t being heard within our own industry, what’s the point?” he asked. “I encourage organisers to approach the relevant authorities and step up their efforts, because if we don’t, Earls Court is lost.”
Meanwhile, Earls Court has confirmed it is contracting business at Earls Court until Spring 2014.
TOGETHER WE CAN STILL SAVE EARL’S COURT!