Latest: Olympia evicted from its Car Park

"SRRA has been informed that London & Continental Railways have instructed the Earl's Court and Olympia Group to vacate the Former Motorail Site car park by September 27, 2003 - bang in the middle of the Public Inquiry, and a few weeks before some of the most important events taking place at the Exhibition Hall.

The question is - the questions are: Why? And why now?

Economically, the decision doesn't make sense. LCR stands to lose substantial revenue, as it cannot lease the car park to another operator; the planning permission to use the site as a car park is of the "single user" type; no-one but the Olympia can operate a car park on the site.

However, in the context of the St George proposals, one can infer from LCR's decision that they have decided to play the development card to the full, which they can only do if they get rid of their tenant - the Earls Court and Olympia Group.

Why now?
The date chosen by LCR to revoke its lease will cause maximum disruption to the operations of the Exhibition Hall. One can already imagine the chaos that the loss of this amenity will bring to the organisation of the Horse Show, for example, shortly before Christmas - and to our streets, which are already overflowing with traffic. Where will all the exhibitors' vehicles park? WIll some of them decide that it is simply not worth the hassle?

This decision is bound to be brought up as a major issue during the Public Inquiry. One of the major objections to the St George Central London Ltd development proposal is the effect it would have on the longer-term viability of the Earls Court & Olympia Group, the single biggest private employer in the Borough. Many residents have already expressed the opinion to SRRA that LCR's decision is a "strong-arm tactic" designed for the sole benefit of the would-be developer.

SRRA will release a formal statement at a later date, after having consulted its members. But it deplores and condemns this decision, as well as the way in which it was taken, and will work towards putting maximum pressure on the railway operator to revise its position, and enable the Olympia to continue using its ancillary car park."


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What is St. George planning to do with the Olympia car park?

The development will run the whole length, and width, of the Olympia Car Park.

It will consist of 251 residential units (1-, 2- and 3-bedroom flats), spread within a 5-storey unbroken terrace of over 50 houses. 33% of the units have been set aside as "affordable" housing, though what "affordable" meant in that case has not been defined by the developer.

These houses will back directly on the existing railtrack. No trees will be planted. No space has been put aside for gardens or green spaces of any kind.

No provision has been made for a specific pedestrian access to the units. The future residents would have to use the 6 metre wide access road built right in front of the new houses.

170 covered car spaces will be built right up to the existing garden walls of the Sinclair Road properties, on the whole length of the development: from No. 2 to No. 132 Sinclair Road.

Most of the woodland area at the back of Sinclair Road will be entirely destroyed, mature trees included. St. George has also identified trees growing in private gardens which would need to be felled "for safety reasons".

Though formally requested to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment by LBHF, St. George has appealed to the Deputy Prime Ministerís office - over the heads of the residents and their elected representatives - not to do so...and has won.

The building works would last two years (at the very least), excluding the planning phase.

Both councils Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea have unanimously rejected St. George's first Planning Application to develop the Olympia Car Park

St. George's decision to appeal against the councils of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea means that a Public Enquiry will be held on September.