THINK special post from Earl’s Court: A new beginning?

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THINK decided to take a break from our North Kensington territory and head south to visit our friends in Earl’s Court. The world-famous Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, pictured above would have been 80 this year. Sadly, developers Capital and Counties (Capco), Boris Johnson (when he was Mayor of London), RBKC and the former Tory regime at Hammersmith and Fulham had other plans and sadly it is no more.

Read about it here:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/davehillblog/2015/jun/25/earls-court-how-to-do-regeneration-wrong

and also here:

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/davehillblog/2016/jul/05/earls-court-uncertain-times-for-landmark-london-regeneration-scheme

The exhibition centres together contributed over £1.25 billion to the economy and since their closure,  some local businesses there have reported turnover losses of up to 60%.

Our friends at Save Earl’s Court face a very uncertain future and many residents are living with ongoing noise, dust and mess as a result of the work going on. Also many local businesses are suffering due to the loss of the exhibition centre.

Save Earl’s Court campaigners are down but not out and have kindly shared their “Earl’s Court: Rescue, Recovery and Renaissance Campaign Report” with us.

In the report they set out their campaign and their positive  visions  for the future of the area.

The Save Earl’s Court campaigners have fought against the Earl’s Court masterplan for five years. They  campaigned  to 1. Stop the demolition of Earl’s Court 1 and Earl’s Court 2 exhibition centres, 2. Stop the demolition of West Ken and Gibbs Green estates which provide social housing to more than 2000 residents, and 3. Stop the demolition of Lillie Bridge Depot which provides manufacturing, training and safety services for London Underground.

Of course now the exhibition centres are now gone  and Earl’s Court residents were intially promised a replacement venue, a promise that Capco has not kept. Residents also face being priced out of the planned new “luxury” developments and many in social housing forced out altogether.

Save Earl’s Court’s campaigners report plans a venue from scratch on the former Earl’s Court 1 site. Their tag line is to “Think big, think green” The proposed venue would be flexible in design (to accommodate various types of events) and multi purpose to feature exhibitions as well as cultural (such as music) and sporting events. They also plan for an international architecture campaign for the project and for the venue to be given ACV (asset of community value) status to protect it

The proposed building would have green aspects built in to the design such as solar panels, living walls and urban food growing and an anaerobic digestion plant near the venue.

Other plans in the report are for a creative enterprise zone in the Earl’s Court and West Kensington opportunity area. Earl’s Court has a rich cultural history and the campaigners want to strongly preserve.

Also that the Lillie Bridge Depot is retained and further incorporates a training hub for local residents interested in pursuing a career with London Underground.

Also that creative enterprise zones and music zones are incorporated into the area.

As well as that historic Empress Place is preserved and there is also affordable space for artists provided nearby (local artist Duggie Fields wrote a foreword to the report) and to make the surrounding “Lillie Enclave”  area a conservation area.

We note that Save Earl’s Court have received support for their campaign from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and even UKIP, but Tories? No. Local Labour MPs Emma Dent Coad and Andy Slaughter have also given their support, but not Emma’s Conservative predecessor Victoria “Lady Baking Powder” Borwick.

Special mention also has to go to Lib Dem RBKC Earl’s Court Ward councillor Linda Wade, who has worked hard to support local Earl’s Court residents (unlike the two Conservative RBKC  Earl’s Court councillors Malcolm Spalding and Fenella Aouane, who have annoyed and alienated most residents).

THINKers have many fond memories of Earl’s Court exhibition centre and fully support Save Earl’s Court  campaigners in their efforts to make their local area a real “destination” again. We also strongly condemn Crapco (as we call them) for their bullying tactics towards businesses in Lillie Road, (hiking up the rents and offering derisory lump sums in order to get them to leave) and for their dishonesty in not keeping their promises.

We at THINK believe that the Earl’s Court masterplan is a complete disaster plan and urge Sadiq Khan in his role as Mayor of London, to prevent further destruction and ruination of this once vibrant community and to look at Save Earl’s Court’s campaign report and hopefully work alongside residents and businesses towards a more positive solution.

We take off our THINKing caps to these tireless and amazing campaigners who have had to go through so much noise, mess, disturbance, stress and uncertainty and yet still come through with such incredible energy and an inspired and positive report – we thank them. We are not “anti regeneration” if plans are community-led and are not there for social cleansing purposes.

THINK believe this report shows a real shift in favour of community-led developments in which residents and local businesses have a say, to be the future for happy, healthy and successful communities as opposed to the soulless developer- led plans which are usually  for pure short-term financial gain, that our local Tories favour – they are living in the past.

We also believe that Boris Johnson and  both the Hammersmith and Fulham and the RBKC Tories should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

 

 

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