Mira Bar-Hillel (08/11/2011)
The redevelopment of major London landmarks is always a problem, and problems can take many years - even decades - to overcome.
Now consider Earls Court Exhibition Centre. I am sure most of you are familiar with it, from the outside if not the inside. It hits you in the face as you come out of Earls Court underground station and it has been a popular venue for big pop concerts as well as big exhibitions, including the annual Idea Home Show.
As an Olympic venue, it is safe until around this time next year – but after that, well, who knows? The owners, developers Capital & Counties, think they do. They have made a planning application for one of the most ambitious redevelopments ever proposed in central London. Covering 77 acres, it will take 20 years to complete, cost around £8 billion, add over 7,000 much-needed to homes to the Lonodn total, need the consent of two local councils and include the demolition of the London landmark.
This will not be easy. The company has already spent around £20 million on the project and the outline planning applications submitted to both Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea councils contains 600,000 pages.
"Outline" means that consent is sought for an overall plan, with details of design to be submitted at a later stage. If all goes to plan, construction would begin this time next year and continue to completion in 2032. The project, masterminded by architect Sir Terry Farrell, is based on the concept of "four villages and a high street".
The new High Street will link North End Road in the west to Warwick Road and Earls Court station in the east. The four villages will contain thousands of new private homes, 1.3 million sq ft of offices, shops, hotels, leisure facilities, a private hospital, education and community facilities and 37 acres of open spaces.
EARLS COURT VILLAGE will replace the exhibition centre and attempt to replicate the existing "grand, elegant residential area" with "sweeping crescents of townhouses to the north and south and contemporary mansion blocks reference the surrounding Victorian and Edwardian architecture"
NORTH END VILLAGE will be a new neighbourhood "taking its character from the historic North End Road market". It will contain culture and community uses on the western end of the High Street and garden squares for exercise and sport.
WEST BROMPTON VILLAGE will be designed for young families with a range of open spaces where children can play safely.
WEST KENSINGTON VILLAGE will be a mainly commercial quarter with "strikingly contemporary architecture softened by greenery at every turn". Hammersmith & Fulham Council appears to be in partnership with CapCo. This is because the company has offered to rehouse 760 council tenants in new buildings, at its own expense.
But the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBK&C) is far less friendly. It has accused CapCo of obfuscation and lack of transparency over issues such as density and heights. CapCo have admitted to me they the proposed density on the RBK&C site is high, but their argument is that the density in the area, with its traditional mansion blocks, is already very high.
Local residents - and councillors - are also unhappy about the proposed heights - up to 15 storeys. There will be even taller buildings on the other side, but they will be clearly visible and are veru unpopular with RBK&C well-off residents. They fear the plans would turn their neighbourhood into "a new Milton Keynes", complete with unacceptable traffic and transport implications.
The overall density in RBK&C is indeed high. CapCo point out that Earl's Court has always been an area of traditionally dense mansions blocks which they claim their plans do not exceed, but the residents are far from convinced and battle has commenced.
If that's not confusing enough, here is another ingredient to add to the mix: Chelsea Football Club are very keen to leave their inadequate stadium in Fulham and move into a new, bigger, 60,000-seater elsewhere. It is rumoured that high on their list of choices are – surprise, surprise – Earl’s Court and Battersea Power Station.
"We have not been and are not in discussions with Chelsea FC", a CapCo executive told me sternly. "There is no provision for a massive football facility in our plans and there is none in the local plans of either borough".
We shall see...
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1. Wanita Author in 02/05/2012:
You have more useful info than the British had coilones pre-WWII.
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