War on Art.
Sad news for London as the planned demolition of Earls Court Exhibition Centre appears to be going ahead. Mayor Boris Johnson signed off on a plan to destroy the landmark in favour of developing – or “reimiganing” – a 77-acre plot in the area into four luxury housing estates and a high street. Despite concerns that destruction of the centre would devalue the area, not to mention result in the loss of a London icon, plans are going forward to create the 12bn-pound rejuvenation of the area. Alongiside the exhibition centre, council housing estates – 760 homes – will be destroyed and the Transport of London’s Lillie Bridge maintenance depot moved. Other businesses are also being squeezed out – those that aren’t deemed upmarket enough to fit the developers’ ideal.
While the gentrification of the area will no doubt raise property values, some locals see the change as ‘social cleansing’. There are also worries that London will soon suffer a surfeit of luxury housing, selling high-priced apartments to overseas buyers who will not be able to find locals to rent to.
Earls Court exhibition centre was built in 1887, and refurbished in 1937, given an Art Deco façade. It has hosted countless events and exhibitions since the late 19th century, the site for everything from confectionary fairs to Pink Floyd concerts. Though Mayor Johnson defends his decision to have the centre demolished to make way for what he calls a “landmark scheme”, others can only see the loss of a beloved London character – a venue at the heart of the city’s vibrant events scene. Though demolition was slated to begin in December, protests to save the structure are ongoing.