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Earls Court regeneration – what’s the story?

It’s one of the best-known parts of West London, famous for its (now demolished) exhibition centre, its busy Tube station and historically, the destination of choice for Australian backpackers and expats.

But what are the plans to draw people back now that the exhibition centre which made it famous is gone?

The Earls Court Development Company (ECDC) recently announced a raft of hires to the development team as the firm prepares to bring a fresh plan forward for the iconic 40-acre site later this year.


The ‘industry-leading’ team is headed up by Ben Giddens, director of development and masterplanning, with the senior team made up of Aoife McEvoy and Benedict Keehan, both as development directors, and Sharon Giffen as head of design.  

Earls Court is described as being one of London’s most exciting and important development opportunities, with the company behind its regeneration saying it will deliver a combination of new homes for Londoners and commercial opportunities alongside green and cultural spaces.

The ECDC says it has ‘a bold and ambitious vision to bring the wonder back to Earls Court’, with a masterplan that ‘opens up the site to the local community, celebrates the legacy of world-class ingenuity, creates a better piece of city, and responds to the climate emergency’.

The firm insists that collaboration with the community forms an integral part of the fresh approach to development that the team are taking.

Giddens joins from Argent Related, where he was development director with an overarching role in the 180-acre Brent Cross Town regeneration site. Before this, Giddens spent a decade at Quintain, as executive director for development, where he was responsible for the development progression of Wembley Park, the largest Build to Rent scheme in the UK.

Meanwhile, Aoife McEvoy joins from Battersea Power Station Development Company, where she was development director for five years on the mixed-use redevelopment of the iconic Grade 2* listed Power Station.

She most recently led on the successful re-masterplanning of around 4 million sq ft of mixed-use development across four phases of the remaining 21 acres at the Battersea site. Before this, she worked for Cerberus, John Laing and Avison Young, and has gained ‘extensive development experience’ across all mixed-use asset classes within the UK.

Keehan joins from EcoWorld, where he led the final two residential phases of the new Brentford Football Stadium regeneration as well as a residential development in Tulse Hill in a joint venture with Network Rail. Keehan also previously worked at Quintain, where he led the Fulton Quarter mixed-use masterplan at Wembley Park, which has planning consent for approximately 1,000 homes and 6,600sqm of employment space.

Lastly, Giffen joins with more than 20 years of architectural experience in leading world-class design on large masterplans and mixed-use schemes. Before her latest role, Giffen was part of Transport for London’s Commercial Development team, championing design quality through to delivery on a large portfolio of sites across London. She also spent 14 years at Foster + Partners leading ambitious architectural proposals on regeneration and infrastructure projects around the world.

Giddens said of the appointments: “We have a phenomenally experienced and talented development team in place as momentum builds on the masterplanning process and delivery plan. The wider team have spent a lot of time understanding local priorities and we are working on a plan that reflects the engagement we have undertaken. We are looking forward to sharing a new masterplan proposition for the site later this year, a plan that balances environmental, social and economic needs.”

What is the ECDC?  

The Earls Court Development Company is an Earl’s Court-based business, responsible for driving the regeneration of the former Earls Court Exhibition Centre site, covering around 40 acres, on behalf of the Earls Court Partnership. The Partnership is a joint venture between Delancey (on behalf of its client funds including the Dutch pension fund manager, APG) and TfL that was formed in December 2019.

The first decision it took after acquiring the site was to hand back the West Kensington and Gibbs Green housing estates - originally part of the previous owners’ masterplan - to Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

What is happening with the regeneration? 

ECDC says it has had thousands of conversations with residents, neighbours and local businesses about the future of the Earls Court site. In late 2021, it launched its latest phase of consultation, showcasing the priorities that will guide the regeneration of the site. This involved a series of in-person public events, webinars and masterplanning workshops with representatives of the local community, to determine their priorities for the emerging masterplan.

It adds that, over the coming months, more detailed plans will be shared with the public, showcased at in-person and virtual events, alongside drop-ins at train stations and markets.

You can find out about the consultation here.

Early delivery at Earls Court

ECDC says its site activation programme is central to the early delivery of its commitments both now and for the longer-term masterplan. It argues that it has succeeded in opening parts of the Earls Court site to the public for the first time in over a century.

Since acquiring the site in 2019, it says it has developed close ties with its neighbours, local businesses and the wider community, and that investing in the future of the area forms a core principle of its vision for Earls Court. To date, it says it has carried out the following:

Homes at Empress Place: Refurbished and bought back into use properties along Empress Place, which were left derelict. During the height of the first national lockdown, these were provided as homes for key workers.

Earls Court Community Fund: In 2021, established a £180,000 a year community fund. In October, grants were awarded to nineteen local organisations, including Dads House, Finsborough Theatre, Barons Court Project, Family Friends, and the Earl’s Court Community Trust, to support their work with local communities, young people and those at risk or vulnerable. Applications have opened for this year’s round of funding.

Warwick Road Apron: In summer 2021, the ‘Pleasure Garden’ installation, designed by local artists Baker & Borowski, was showcased at Warwick Road Apron, as part of K+C Art Week.

London Wonderground: In collaboration with Underbelly, ECDC launched London Wonderground  in summer 2021. In total, it welcomed over 114,000 people to the event, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. It says it also created 120 temporary jobs and took 11 young people from the local area through the Underbelly Training Academy. Underbelly has returned to Earls Court this year.

Empress Studios: Working in partnership with Projekt, ECDC has converted six derelict Victorian townhouses into 8,500 sq. ft of workspace for creatives and innovators within Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea. Opening earlier this month, upwards of 30 new workspaces have been created, providing affordable studio and office space for the local arts and science industries.

Community Hub: The former replacement homes ensuite along Aisgill Avenue have been refurbished into a Community Hub. Set to open later this month, a dedicated manager will be based at the hub, with a range of activities and classes running throughout the week for people of all ages.

Lille Road: The firm has turned its part of Lille Road into an active high street, providing opportunities for small businesses at The Pop-Up and providing space for small businesses and charities.

Mannequin Factory: The company says it is also working on bringing immersive theatre alongside creative and cultural spaces to the former Mannequin Factory, an empty building to the northwest of the site. More details will be announced shortly.


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