Wrecking ball awaits art deco Olympic volleyball venue


LONDON (Reuters) - Permission to flatten London's art deco Earls Court exhibition centre and its 1930s-style fixtures should come shortly after the venue finishes playing host to the Olympic volleyball tournament, its owners said on Tuesday.

Capital and Counties, which owns London's Covent Garden tourist hot spot, has an eight billion pound plan for 7,500 homes across a 77-acre neighbourhood in west London that will take two decades to complete.

"We hope to get outline planning consent for the master plan by the end of the year," chief executive Ian Hawksworth told Reuters.

"There has been a thrust from London authorities in the last five years for large-scale regeneration schemes in response to the demand for new homes."

The global credit crunch meant finance dried up for developers, exacerbating a supply shortage of homes across Britain and in London, a popular market for overseas buyers.

London has 12 similar sites covering more than 50 million square feet of houses, shops and offices, the equivalent of 670 football pitches and the highest number of big schemes on record, global property consultancy CBRE said.

Other projects include a 67-acre plan for the Olympic athlete's village once the Games leave town and another site of homes, offices and shops in the Kings Cross neighbourhood in central London.

The Earls Court site played host to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in the late 19th century before a permanent venue was constructed in the 1930s.

The exhibition centre served as the venue for a British Union of Fascists rally in 1939 and for the manufacture of London's air defence balloons during the Second World War.

Bands and pop singers have performed at the venue in more recent years, which now comprises two buildings, including The Rolling Stones, Coldplay and the Spice Girls.

Hawksworth said he had not received trading figures to gauge the effect of the Olympics on Covent Garden, home to shops, restaurants and bars popular among visitors, but its eateries were "very busy" at the weekend and tourists outnumbered Londoners.

(Editing by Matt Falloon)


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