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London's West End gets 5 billion pound investment to 'bounce back' from pandemic

By Huw Hughes

1 Oct 2021

Business

Image: The West End Company

London’s West End is in line to receive a 5 billion pound investment over the coming five years as it looks to “bounce back” after the pandemic.

The shopping district, one of the world’s most illustrious upmarket fashion destinations and a favourite of international luxury shoppers, has been hit hard by store closures and plummeting footfall over the past 18 months.

But on Friday business group The New West End Company (NWEC), which represents 600 businesses on Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and in Mayfair, said a new five-year investment will inject new life into the iconic shopping hub.

The investment will be spread across 22 existing and new West End developments.

In what it describes as “one of the most ambitious overhauls of a high street to date”, NWEC said 76 percent of the West End developments listed will be mixed-use.

Outernet London will also be launched, the first of a global network of advanced immersive media, entertainment and culture districts, while Cavendish Square will be transformed into a health and wellbeing destination.

West End receives 'unprecedented' investment

There will also be an onus on public realm projects, with over 220 million pounds to be dedicated to the open public space.

NWEC CEO Jace Tyrrell said the capital investment “will cement our spot as the most iconic and diverse consumer district in the world”.

He said in Mayfair, NWEC’s development pipeline alone represents 1 billion pounds of future investment “in the destination’s recovery and resilience to climate change”.

The investment comes as Westminster City Council's 150 million pound Oxford Street District Transformation announced last year is already underway. Meanwhile, the much-anticipated 18 billion pound Elizabeth Line is due to open in the first half of 2022.

Despite the optimism, however, NWEC warned that The West End district is currently at a “significant disadvantage” compared with other international shopping destinations, such as Paris, which offers visitors preferable visa terms.

“If the West End is to reach its full potential and once more become the beating heart of London, it needs to be attractive enough to welcome back international tourists en masse from key markets,” NWEC said. “Only then can it realise its goal to deliver 10 billion pounds in annual turnover with 200 million visitors a year.”