Johannesburg - The redevelopment of Earls Court in London into a mixed-use neighbourhood with hundreds of new homes by listed Capital & Counties Properties (Capco) has been boosted by the establishment of a joint venture with Transport for London (TfL).

The Earls Court Partnership, in which Capco will own 63 percent and TfL 37 percent of the shareholding, will enable the development of Earls Court 1 and 2 in line with the master plan for the area.

TfL owns the freehold to the exhibition centres known as Earls Court 1 and 2 while Capco is the leaseholder of the sites.

In addition, Capco owns other adjacent land interests, including the Northern Access Road, which will be part of the joint venture.

Capco is one of two listed independent companies formed from the demerger of Liberty International, which was founded by Donald Gordon. Capco is listed on the London Stock Exchange and the JSE. Earls Court is one of its two key assets in London, with the other being Covent Garden.

Gary Yardley, the investment director at Capco, said on Friday the company was delighted to finalise this agreement and looked forward to working with TfL. “The re-imagination of Earls Court is moving forward and presents a unique opportunity to establish a new address in central London. Together with our partners, we will bring 7 500 new homes and 10 000 new jobs to the area, and benefits not just for the local economy, but for London as a whole.”

The master plan includes the development of a primary school, a leisure centre, health facilities and community and cultural spaces, with 15 hectares of green open space provided, including a 2ha park, plus significant improvements to the transport infrastructure.

Graeme Craig, TfL’s director of commercial development, said the joint venture was “another great step forward” in the development of the Earls Court master plan, which would create much needed homes and jobs for London while generating substantial revenues for TfL to reinvest back into the transport network. “This is the first example of our new approach to retaining and investing in our assets across London, working in partnership with developers like Capco, which will deliver real long-term value for fare and taxpayers.”

It was estimated in 2012 that it would take between 10 and 15 years to develop the entire wider Earls Court and West Kensington Opportunity Area, resulting in the creation of about 13 000 permanent jobs out of the existing infrastructure, the building of the 8 000 residential units, and capital release from the assets linked to the infrastructure.

Capco shares were down 0.44 percent to close at R63.04 on the JSE on Friday. - Business Report