The redevelopment of many areas in London has taken a worrying turn for local businesses around Earls Court, with the proposed demolition of the famous exhibition centres. Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, will make a final decision on whether to approve the plans in the next two months, spelling disaster for the events and conferences which take place across the venues, as well as the businesses and organisations which take their exhibition stands there on a regular basis.
The proposals have come under attack from many in the entertainment industry, as the main Earls Court venue has often been used to hold huge live music events; Madonna, U2 and Oasis have all played at the arena, which holds 19,000 people when at capacity, in their respective heydays. The art deco venue was built in the 1930s and is an iconic feature of the area and of the music scene in London.
The exhibition centre has also been a hub of activity to promote economic growth and investment into the area. A Labour spokeswoman has stated that losing Earls Court would be a ‘huge setback for the London and UK economy’ with figures estimating that the exhibitions, trade shows and conventions which take place there bring in up to £1bn per year. Long-term jobs in the area are sustained as a result of the many events which take place there and bring custom to the area, while the events themselves provide a platform for any UK industry to market their services or products through a pop up exhibition stand or media display.
The argument for the demolition states that the huge project will bring new jobs to the area for the coming years, as well as creating 8,000 new homes and becoming the largest construction site in Europe, according to Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Not only does the prospect of living near the continent’s biggest building site sound unappealing to local residents, they are also worried that the completed project might be detrimental to the area’s status as a prime exhibition location. The question is whether the jobs and homes created by the demolition will counteract the loss of around 2.5 million visitors and 30,000 exhibitors, who take their banner stands to Earls Court on a regular basis and have strong and established customer bases there. Those against the proposals state that there is no empirical evidence that London needs less exhibition space, especially when the space is within such an iconic building which brings vitality and growth to an area.