CapCo seals deal to flatten London's Earls Court centre
LONDON, July 18
LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - London's city transport authority has finally given the go ahead to a redevelopment by Capital & Counties that will knock down the Earls Court exhibition centre in west London and replace it with new housing.
The deal agreed on Thursday is the culmination of four years of negotiations between the company and Transport for London (TfL) and is part of a planned 8 billion pound redevelopment of the land around the well-known arts and sports venue.
The art deco exhibition centre and its 1930s-style fixtures played host to the Olympic volleyball tournament last year but have long been scheduled for demolition as the city seeks to ease a continuing housing shortage.
Under the deal, CapCo, which also owns London tourist hot spot Covent Garden, will set up a joint venture with TfL. It will take a majority stake in an entity which will own a 999-year lease on the 20-acre site, with TfL holding 37 percent.
Neither party will pay any cash and TfL said the joint venture was part of a new approach it was taking with its extensive property portfolio. CapCo will be the project's exclusive development manager.
Any revenues from the scheme will be reinvested in the capital's transport network, said TfL, which holds the freehold of the site. The agreement is still subject to approval by the boards of CapCo and TfL.
The site is part of a 77-acre plan by CapCo to develop the Earls Court area, a downmarket neighbour of high-end shopping and residential areas Knightsbridge and Belgravia, into four villages made up of offices, gardens and some 7,500 homes.
The scheme is among a dozen large-scale regeneration projects taking place in the British capital which include the redevelopment of the 2012 Olympic site in east London and a 67-acre project in the Kings Cross district by developer Argent.
"This is a major step forward for the Earls Court Masterplan," CapCo's Investment Director, Gary Yardley, said.
"On top of the resolution to grant planning consents, and the agreement we already have in place with (London borough of Hammersmith & Fulham), these proposals would mean that the development of Earls Court can now be progressed."
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