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Plan to ‘reinvigorate’ London's iconic West End revealed

By Huw Hughes

25 Feb 2022

Business

Image: The West End Company

A new five-year plan to “reinvigorate” London’s iconic West End shopping district has been revealed by The Heart of London Business Alliance (HOLBA).

HOLBA, which represents 500 businesses in the Piccadilly & St James's and Leicester Square areas, said the plan includes over 40 potential projects “designed to preserve and enhance the unique character of the central London area”.

It said five of these are “immediate priority projects”.

The scheme - called West End 2027 - aims to bring life back to the once bustling luxury shopping destination which has been hit hard over the past two years by the pandemic.

The public realm schemes include the creation of a new Arts Quarter in the network of small streets behind the National Gallery, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

The Arts Quarter is expected to bring forward 1 billion pounds of investment as development opportunities come forward, according to HOLBA.

Ros Morgan, the chief executive of HOLBA, said: “We are committed to ensuring the West End comes back from the pandemic even stronger than before.

“Part of our strategy includes bringing culture onto the streets and integrating art into the built environment, which is based on the idea that it will be more important than ever to have spaces in the West End that people want to come back to, particularly as footfall from workers and tourists picks up.”

The plan also includes a proposed transformation of Green Park to create a “world-class welcome for visitors as they arrive on Piccadilly, and to turn Charing Cross Road into a tree-lined boulevard to accommodate the estimated 80 percent increase in people arriving to the area via the Elizabeth Line”.

Additionally, St Martin’s Lane and Sackville Street will be transformed “to reflect the quality of businesses in the area”.

Pandemic rebound

This is the latest investment announced for the West End as it recovers from the pandemic.

In October, The New West End Company (NWEC), which represents 600 businesses on Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and Mayfair, announced a 5 billion pound investment over the next five years.

Earlier this month, a report by property consultancy firm Colliers, and commissioned by NWEC, predicted the West End to recover to its historic annual turnover of 10 billion pounds within the next two years.

By 2025, the shopping hub is predicted to surpass pre-pandemic levels by 14 per cent - or by a further 1.4 billion pounds.

Figures from 2021 show spending in the West End was up 30 percent from 2020, but was still only 46 percent of pre-pandemic levels.