Earls Court Exhibition Centre must stay

5th May 2011

Association of Event Organisers (AEO) today urged a re-think following the release of the latest plans by Capital and Counties that will see the iconic Earls Court Exhibition Centre demolished.

Capital and Counties plan to bulldoze the Earls Court complex and turn this and the 26 acres around the site into an extensive residential area. The company plan to build up to 8,000 dwellings.

Austen Hawkins, AEO Chief Executive, says: ‘The plans to destroy London’s major West End exhibition centre will have disastrous consequences on not only the UK exhibition industry but also on the national and local economy’.

The figures speak for themselves; Earls Court is at the heart of London’s West End and attracts more than 2.5 million visitors, 30,000 exhibiting companies and hundreds of events per year. Together with Olympia it supports £258m of expenditure in their boroughs and over £1.25bn in the London region, and accounted for (directly and indirectly) over 1,000 jobs in the boroughs and around 12,500 in London. One in two Londoners visits the venues every year.

The loss of Earls Court and the resultant reduction in overseas exhibitors, conferences and business tourists visiting the UK will cost the country billions in lost revenue when we need it most.

‘At a time when many other capital cities around the world are heavily investing in their exhibition space as they recognise the enormous economic value exhibitions and events bring to their cities and country, it is extremely worrying that the current plans will see London fall behind the rest of the world in this area’ says Hawkins.

AEO’s CEO further comments: ‘At peak times exhibition space within Central and West London has reached capacity, it goes without saying that the loss of Earls Court will hugely reduce already stretched capacity and this will have a negative impact on the UK exhibition and events industry.’

Douglas Emslie, AEO Chairman, adds: ‘The Olympic Games is the world’s biggest event, everyone recognises its importance and understands the enormous economic value this event will bring. So much so even the Prime Minister of the day was part of the bid team. Yet we are proposing demolishing a major event venue that delivers major events to this country!’

The UK’s successful Olympic bid was based on its legacy commitment; however there are now plans to knock down one of the venues hosting the Olympics, a legacy of destruction!

UK exhibition organisers lead the world in innovation and geo-cloning of exhibitions, yet the industry receives less governmental support than most other countries with sizable economies.

AEO is therefore lobbying the national and local Government, the London Mayor, relevant planning authorities and Capital and County to immediately take action to prevent Earls Court being demolished or at the very least to ensure that the new development includes a ‘new’ Earls Court exhibition centre.

London has staked its claim to being a world city and, as such, needs world class attractions delivering world class experiences. That’s what Earls Court does and it is imperative that we save this national institution.