Do not involve a conflict with national policies on important matters
"The proposals obviously conflict with national policies for the Big Society and Localism because they involve dictating the future of the local community against its wishes. The Prime Minister and his minister have repeatedly claimed they are giving power to the people, to local communities, to decide the future of their neighbourhoods. The importance of these policies is reflected in the many statements from the Secretary of State and other Ministers. The Prime Minister has personally championed these policies, claiming this is something he is "passionate" about.
This conflict with national policy on this important matter has been reported in the national press, with dozens of articles in the Guardian and in the national media, including national television, and hundreds and thousands of media articles. For example, on 12 January 2011 the Financial Times ran a story with the headlines: "Regeneration row. West London project runs into difficulties. 'Big Society' threat to Earl's Court Scheme"."
Do not have significant long term impact on economic growth and meeting housing needs across a wider area than a single authority
"The loss of the Earl's Court Exhibition Centres would have a significant long term impact on economic growth across many local authorities and more widely given their major role in UK and world trade. The Secretary of State is not qualified to opine otherwise since no economic assessment of their loss was made.
There is a significant impact on meeting housing needs across the wider area, which is caused by failing to take advantage of this development opportunity to maximise the amount of additional affordable housing prescribed by policy. "
Do not have significant effects beyond their immediate locality
"The destruction of the Exhibition Centres has significant effects across London and throughout the UK (more on this from AEO below) as it leads to loss of business for hundreds of UK companies and in some case closure of businesses or cessation of Earl's Court related operations, which is obviously an effect beyond its immediate locality.
The Centres generate at least £1 billion a year for the UK economy and play a major role in UK and international trade that would be lost and not replaced.
The relocation of the Lillie Bridge rail depot, which is the premier servicing facility for London Underground would be forced away from it central location, most likely to Ruislip. This would have a significant effect on the safe and efficient running of the Underground across the whole of London, which is obviously an effect beyond its immediate locality."
Do not give rise to substantial cross boundary or national controversy
"On 23 August, 2013, Planning Magazine, the trade press for the planning profession reported the Secretary of State's decision with the headline: "No call in for controversial Earls Court scheme", The first word of the first sentence of the article is "Controversial".
On 24 August 2013 the BBC reported the SoS's decision not to call in.
It is quite apparent from reading just a few of the hundreds of media articles, and journalists have said so, that the scheme has given rise to cross-boundary and national controversy."
Do not raise significant architectural and urban design issues
"Sir Terry Farrell would be surprised to hear that his scheme does not raise any significant architectural and urban design issues. The masterplan refers to a "unique opportunity" for "this extraordinary site" and lauds the masterplanner's "visionary approach" for "an innovative and vibrant new district that is a beacon for sustainable living" that "introduces a new metropolitan 'front door' to the capital".
In a Hammersmith & Fulham council press release dated 23 August 2013, developer Gary Yardley said: "The Masterplan will create a remarkable new district for London".
At £8 billion, the Earl's Court redevelopment is claimed to be the largest in the world outside of China. It involves the demolition of 760 decent homes, the EC Exhibition Centres and the rail depot so as to build 7,000, 80% of which would be unaffordable. It will involve the construction of several tower blocks up to 30 storeys high and over 4,000 car parking spaces.
"As the written ministerial statement of 10 May 2013 makes clear, the Government wants to see a focus on refurbishment and improvement of rundown or vacant properties rather their demolition. We would expect, in line with George Clarke's ten point plan, landlords to consider options to upgrade and refurbish existing homes, in consultation with tenants, prior to considering demolition." (Consultation on the Housing Transfer Manual 23 July 2013)
Ministerial Statement 10 May 2013 Empty Homes. Mark Prisk: "As part of this commitment, we have explicitly rejected the last Administration's top-down, large-scale Whitehall targets for demolition and clearance. The obsession with demolition over refurbishment was both economically and environmentally wasteful, as well as involving significant damage of our nation's heritage."
Do not involve the interests of national security or of foreign governments
" It likely will involve foreign governments given how much new development in inner London has been purchased by sovereign wealth funds, especially from Middle Eastern countries."
As background, this is what ECO say about themselves;
And this is what the Association of Event Organisers say about the SoS's decision that the development has no impact on economic performance
"Earls Court One and Two together have a total 60,000 square metres of event space and add to these facilities the purpose-built conference centre and the Museum Hall party space can boast a venue and a space for every event.
Over the years, the venues have welcomed visitors to shows such as the London Boat Show, the British Motor Show, the Ideal Home Show, the London Book Fair, the Great British Beer Festival and the Good Food Show.
The halls have resounded to performances by world-famous artists such as Madonna, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, George Michael, Elton John, Kylie, Rod Stewart, Queen and the Rolling Stones.
We've hosted the BRIT Awards, and sporting events such as boxing and wrestling contests, and some of the country's largest companies have held conferences, training sessions and massive staff parties in our venues.
As the ultimate accolade, Earls Court was selected to be a London 2012 Olympic venue – chosen, according to Lord Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, for its west London location and excellent transport links.
All of this puts Earls Court at the heart of the communities in which they operate, as the 1.5 million visitors, 15,000 exhibiting companies and 300 events that we cater for every year have a sizeable economic impact – in terms of jobs and expenditure.
A study carried out on behalf of Earls Court and sister venue Olympia London, showed that the two venues together supported £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.
The study also showed that one in two Londoners visits the venues every year."
"The reason for the purported 'decline' of this hugely important venue is that Capital & Counties purchased the site with the sole aim of redevelopment and set about doing as little as possible to refurbish/update the facilities. The reason for their desire to redevelop is that the land value currently stands at approx. £10 million per acre, whilst residential would increase that to £25 million per acre.
The developers are doing their business BUT it is the responsibility of local and national government to look beyond the profit generation of property companies and recognise the impact on our industry which generates in excess of £11 billion per year in net expenditure.
The notion that all Earls Court based events can simply move to Olympia or ExCeL is simply ludicrous – this is not just a question of square metres. It must be understood that there are only 52 weeks in a year and venue cannot host similarly-themed events within 3-months of each other.
As a further thought, the business that is stimulated through the platform of these events runs into the £100 billions – consumer spend at the last Ideal Home Show was £741 per capita. With 270,000 visitors that equates to over £200,000,000!! If we look at Farnborough Air Show achieving circa £49 billion of contracts signed, it is a simple deduction that the entire event industry figure is easily in the £100 billions, and most importantly that Earls Court will be responsible for a large percentage of that business.Karim HalwagiChief Executive OfficerAssociation of Event Organisers Ltd"
It is worth noting that Chelsea's submission to the Seagrave Road planning application was very clear about maintaining a major exhibition space at EC...
Anyway, plenty to consider.....
Extreme concern was expressed by all at the legal costs incurred by the recent responses to the S793 letters and follow up responses and queries. The bills will be reviewed and discussed with Stephenson Harwood0(SH) by GS. Of the bills incurred 60% were in relation to queries and matters raised by a single shareholder"
"At an oral hearing on Tuesday 23 April, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, Clive Lewis QC refused permission for judicial review of Hammersmith & Fulham Council's decision to sell the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates to Earl's Court developer Capco. At the same time he dismissed the Council's application for costs.
In his judgment, the Judge said:
The Claimant is Mr Greatwood. He is a secure tenant on the West Kensington estate. He has lived there for 20 years. It is his home. It is not surprising he is concerned and worried about this proposal. It is not surprising that he has brought the matter before this Court. He is supported by a number of other tenants who are also concerned, as you would expect, about the impact on their homes and the places where they live. Mr Greatwood, has, if I may say, put forward his arguments carefully and moderately.
I pay tribute to Mr Greatwood and his supporters for the careful, considered and moderate way in which they have put these arguments in this Court.
Firstly, I take on board the point that this is a matter of very great importance to Mr Greatwood and his friends. He is a secure tenant on these estates; he has lived there for 20 years. This is his home. He was perfectly entitled, in my judgment, to challenge the lawfulness of the decision. Secondly, the way he has conducted himself, in my judgment, is exemplary. He has done everything he can to assist this Court by focusing his arguments and taking points that appear sensible. He has done everything he can to marshal quite difficult material and papers. In my judgement, his conduct cannot be criticised in any way whatsoever.... So, in my judgment, it would be inappropriate to order the costs of the Acknowledgment of Service. So, whilst I fully understand the application made by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham … the application for costs is dismissed.
Upon advice, the Claimant has decided not to appeal the Judge's decision. Harold Greatwood said:
I'm not going anywhere, and I know that the majority of my neighbours shall also be staying put. We're back in court this summer. It's far from over: we fight to the bitter end.
A little birdie tells us that the number of shares still in dispute after the s793 letter farrago is fewer than 100.... Considerably fewer in fact.
And so the much heralded and expensive process to "out" "fraudsters" has been more or less concluded with the following statement from the CPO board;
"Further to our statement after the deadline for replies had passed, we can confirm responses were received in respect of 42 of the 47 shareholders who were contacted. Of these 42, one shareholder is now deceased, two disclosed an interest of their children in the shares, one parent responded on behalf of a child and the remainder did not disclose any interest of any other person in their shares.
We can also confirm that we are chasing responses from the five remaining shareholders and are taking legal advice as to what action, if any, to take."
There was much glee and anticipation of fireworks when the initial statement mentioned that the board were seeking legal advice and we ourselves were accused of trying to cover up something dramatic. We preferred to wait until we knew precisely what the legal advice was being sought for. Now we know; not much at all as it turns out. However, it is necessary to examine what we know of this process.
Let's remind ourselves first of all that letters were sent to those holding ten or more shares. Ironically, we are pretty certain that some of those throwing most mud will themselves be in control of a few hundred of the shares in question but we digress. The majority have responded appropriately - in which case, the matter is essentially closed in relation to them. Five people have not responded, so there are now anything between 50 and 500 shares "unaccounted for". We don't know the precise figures.
Let us assume for the sake if argument that five hundred shares are now in question (logic dictates it will be far less than that but, anyway..) it would be wrong to presume that these shares are actually used to vote or would be used to vote in a way that supports the club's desire to move to a new stadium. One could inspect the documents as laid out for scrutiny by the CPO board to determine some facts but we would support the board's very firm warning on harassment, abuse and contraventions of data protection (how very sad that such a bleak warning had to be issued).
We hope the board are able to track down the five individuals and get an answer from them. It would also be helpful to know how many shares are held by these people. The most dramatic outcome will be the removal of voting rights for 500 shares, which isn't, actually that dramatic when you consider the SayNo mantra about 2500 "dodgy" shares. But such action is costly and fraught with dangers.
We would expect the cost of this exercise to have been high and it might have been worth it if we felt it would finally close the matter. We find it bewildering that those who insist on such processes are those who both complain about how much the board spend on legal fees and at the same time attack the board for their efforts to raise funds. A cruel and perverse irony for sure.
They also object to the selling of more shares - and we have a pretty good idea why - but raising funds and selling more shares is precisely what the board must focus on now. It is difficult to fathom why some people would pursue agendas that could lead inexorably to one outcome; the demolishing of CPO by the club. If they so fervently believe that the club have been trying to influence the work and process of the company, why on earth do they insist on creating the conditions where the club could in fact simply penalise it for not paying its dues?
As we said, it would be nice to think that this exercise will end, once and for all, the toxic share topic but it is inevitable that new theories will emerge. But we will hope nevertheless.
With all the furore over the West Ken and Gibbs Green estates, one aspect of the Earls Court development that is often overlooked is the way in which the exhibition industry is furious about the loss of the space. Chelsea's submissions to LBHF have made clear mention of a stadium that would incorporate exhibition facilities. So we thought we would ask the industry for their view. Karim Halwagi, CEO of the Association of Event Organisers answered some questions;
What are your views on the loss of EC as an exhibition facility?
The removal of Earl's Court (with absolutely no discussion or even consideration about a replacement) would cripple the industry and relegate London and the UK far down the rank of hosts for international trading fairs and events. Already, major companies have chosen to expand by holding shows abroad (in Germany) since there is not enough suitable venue stock in London and the UK.
Are you aware of the ideas and plans CFC have as part of a stadium development and whether they would meet the needs of the exhibition industry?
I have not been able to get specifics for the proposal but I was made aware of the concept. If there was any indication that this could be viable I would be very interested for the AEO to work with CFC in developing the idea to ensure that it could work with and enjoy the support from the UK Exhibition & Events Industry.
What has been the CapCo, council and/or the Mayor of London's response to your representations regarding the damage to the UK exhibition industry?
In general our representations have been ignored or dealt with as a matter of process. We have noted the complete disregard for our industry – an industry that has a Net Annual Expenditure of £11 Billion in the UK and a Gross Value Added of £5.6 Billion – in that all issues point East. The Mayor seems to believe that any venue stock issues can be dealt with by ExCeL. The Mayor and City Hall seem to think that we can compete as a 'World City' where other countries are EXPANDING their venue capacity. The removal of one of the most internationally well-known and popular event venues sends a disastrous message around the world. Other major cities are expanding their venue stock as they fully understand the economic benefits of the industry, whilst the UK and London are reducing. The demolition of Earl's Court will simply diminish the status of this country and its capital in the eyes of the rest of the world.
In your estimation, how much in monetary terms might the loss of EC mean to British industry and the UK economy?
I wish I could provide definitive figures, but I can safely say that the monetary effect of the demolition of Earls Court will be in the £100's Millions with a view to direct, indirect and induced impact.
We have come into possession of a copy of the WKGG residents' latest newsletter in which they give details of a new petition they have going. We also link to another blog post on the matter by Dave Hill of The Guardian.
It is our belief that CFC continue to discuss EC with the owners of the site, despite protestations by the council and the apparent "shoulder to shoulder" stance between CapCo and LBHF during the latest rounds of the increasingly acrimonious battle. You may have been perplexed recently by the strident and apparently unprompted statement from LBHF on the impossibility of a stadium at the site (to the effect "neither we nor the developer wants a stadium"etc.) You may have wondered what drew this outburst. So did we....
However, words of caution; things continue to be weighted against the club but it hasn't given up yet....
Extract from WKGG newsletter below. We neither endorse nor vouch for the accuracy of their information, nor the charges and accusations contained in the extract.
"Petition to the Government
There has been much reporting of exciting developments in our campaign, including in the Guardian and on ITV news, which you can read and watch on the media coverage page of our website detailed below.
In March, the Secretary of State will decide whether to allow the Council to sell our homes to EC Properties LP, a firm whose sole investment is £2 from its Limited Partner registered in the tax-haven of Jersey, and which is fabricated to funnel hundreds of millions of pounds in profits to CapCo.
We shall petition the Government not to allow this scheme because we are against demolition, it would harm vulnerable neighbours, destroy 761 decent homes, is criminal, and would undermine the economy.
The Prime Minister promised power to the people and freedom for communities to determine their future. We shall ask the Government to give us the vote so we can decide whether our homes should be sold off, and request it fulfils its undertaking to implement the law that would liberate the local community to take ownership of our neighbourhood. We are the People's Estates, and we shall not be moved!"
Dave Hill's blog.