Olympia redevelopment plans get the go-ahead
by Annie Byrne
Olympia Exhibition and Conference Centre venue owner, Capital and Counties Properties (Capco), has won planning consent for the site’s redevelopment from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.According to the company, the upgrades will improve and enhance Olympia’s ability to host a number of events simultaneously. As previously reported in Exhibition News, Earls Court & Olympia Venues revealed plans to enhance the Olympia facilities in June. The management company, along with the Earls Court and Olympia sites, is owned by Capco. The plans include redevelopment of the West Hall, within its existing footprint, into a two-storey, 8,361sqm exhibition facility by adding a floor, and creating links to the Grand Hall and Olympia 2 behind the restored façade. Olympia 2 will also be reconfigured to provide more efficient servicing arrangements and improved connectivity with the rest of the facility, Capco said.Construction work on the site is now expected to start in early 2011 and through 2012, but will be conducted in phases to allow exhibitions and conferences to continue. The £20m investment is being funded out of Capco’s cash resources. Capco investment director, Gary Yardley, said it was committed to ensuring Olympia remained a world-class events venue. Earls Court and Olympia Venues group managing director, Nigel Nathan, added the redevelopment plans would respect the “fabric” of the historic facility while improving internal features and capacity. “Before we submitted our proposals we consulted widely with the community and have been pleased with the response to our plans,” he said. “We believe the investment will bring in business, new jobs and continued prosperity for Hammersmith and Fulham, benefitting the whole of West London.” Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and group managing director of event organisers Tarsus Group, Douglas Emslie, also welcomed the plans.“This is yet another great initiative from EC&O Venues that will help stimulate the London event market,” he said. “The expansion of space at Olympia is a very positive step for the exhibition industry as it will help both large and small shows grow. Large shows will be able to get better utilisation and traffic flows while small shows will have more flexibility to expand.”While Olympia’s long-term prospects as an exhibition venue are certain, the fate of nearby Earls Court continues to be debated following Capco’s acquisition of the site earlier this year. The company has flagged interest in redeveloping the site as a combination of urban and business space, and appointed Terry Farrell & Partners to come up with a master plan in May, in conjunction with Transport for London and the Hammersmith & Fulham borough.A planning application is expected to be submitted by May 2011.