Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Thursday, 21 January 2010

London's Earls Court venue faces uncertain future

Earls Court
Earls Court hosts big exhibitions like the Ideal Home Exhibition

One of London's most famous music and exhibition venues faces an uncertain future after the 2012 Olympics, after a new owner bought the land it sits on.

Developer Capital and Counties (Capco) has acquired the remaining stake of the site of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre, home to the Brit Awards.

"We envisage a large scale residential-led development at Earls Court," said a Capco spokesman.

"In terms of the venue, no final decisions have been taken," he added.

But Capco said "up to 8,000 new homes" could be built on the land.

'Flagship venue'

"We are presently exploring the option of an enhancement of our world class exhibition centre at Olympia rather than replacing the current exhibition centre at Earls Court," he added.

Paul Colston, managing editor of Exhibition News website, said: "There's a £22bn events industry in the UK and this is a real blow. London will be losing its flagship exhibition venue in the UK."

"This will hurt the whole industry because its the flagship exhibition venue and not easily replaceable."

Mr Colston said London may lose out to other cities in the exhibition and events market.

"International business tourists spend three times as much as other tourists so London's hotels and restaurants will also lose out," he said.

"The big shows will have to look elsewhere and London could lose out.

"It will be good for London's rivals like Birmingham's NEC."

New homes

The firm has launched a website which says the "area has the potential to provide thousands of new homes".

We know that this site is very important to the local community

The Your Earls Court website puts forward a case for development of the 70 acre site, saying: "The local area needs new and affordable homes, new jobs and new investment".

The land is owned by Transport for London (TfL) and Hammersmith & Fulham council, and Capital and Counties, which is part of Liberty International.

"We know that this site is very important to the local community and we pledge to engage and consult the local communities at every stage of this development," the website said.

Earls Court has played host to big exhibitions like the Ideal Homes Exhibition and to concerts by some of the world's biggest artists, from Madonna to Roger Waters.

Earls Court will host the Olympic volleyball tournament in 2012.

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