Keeping London at the forefront of global business
working with and for the whole UK
Putting Central London at the heart of recovery
17 March 2021
I joined Midtown Business Improvement District (BID) as Chief Executive last April, and from day one we started work formulating a recovery plan for the Midtown area. Together with the BID’s Board of Directors, the team – which has worked throughout the pandemic – wrote a COVID-19RISE Strategy in response to the crisis. Working to the themes of Renew, Invigorate, Support and Evolve, we have been busy researching, meeting, planning and offering support wherever we could, all alongside advocating for a speedy recovery.
That’s why we’ve joined London First. Collaboration sits at the heart of everything we do. We believe that our efforts are amplified when we work with others who share the same hope and aspirations for a renewed capital, one in which everyone can prosper and share.
Our district is situated between the City and the West End, with around 175,000 workers, about 10% of central London’s total. It’s a £20 billion a year economy, and the sooner it recovers, the sooner it can support the return to growth across London and the whole UK.
It’s clear that a ‘wait and see’ approach to the recovery in London will be costly. We’d like to see unequivocal joined-up leadership from the Government and City Hall, putting central London’s economic future at the heart of government policy. We are working with other BIDs to ensure that when people return to London it is safe, clean and welcoming – the key pillars of any BID. In addition, it is critical that proactive campaigns are run to safely encourage people back, both office and other workers and (when the time is right) tourists, as consumers are critical to many of the businesses we represent. Our beleaguered theatres, restaurants and museums – all of the wonderful places which make up the rich tapestry of Bloomsbury, Holborn and Clerkenwell – desperately need patrons back.
We’re grateful for the Government’s roadmap but we need speedier guidance, which is why I was happy to put my signature to London First’s recent letter to the PM urging him to launch the planned review into social distancing as quickly as possible. Our members, small and large, from our much-loved pubs all the way up to the much-admired British Museum, need greater clarity to help plan their re-openings.
Central London is a very special area and I’m delighted to have sat on the GLA’s Central Activity Zone (CAZ) Research Group on the Future of the CAZ. We also have our own Social, Economic and Environmental Strategy, as well as using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, aligned to the London Recovery Board’s missions, which enables us to take a pan-London approach. We are very supportive of both City Hall and the boroughs’ agendas on sustainability, air quality, active travel, freight consolidation and improvements to the public realm. For a sustainable, greener, fairer, healthier and happier London to emerge from the pandemic, we also need a clear focus on growth, competitiveness and employment, as without these building blocks in place, other aspirations will be harder to achieve. Making London a more equitable city is critical.
We’re in the process of renaming our BID and we’ll have news on that very soon. We want to shine a light on what makes our district a really special part of London, one that is perfect for businesses to make their home, developers to invest in and visitors to enjoy. Our roster of top-class hotels such as the beautiful Rosewood Hotel, amazing venues such as Conway Hall and our many gorgeous green spaces and squares are part of what has already attracted many of household names, spanning tech, law, commerce, to the area, along with quality office space and great connectivity. We’re anchored by two Crossrail stations, Tottenham Court Road in WC1 and Farringdon in EC1, which is also the interchange between Thameslink and the tube network. With the imminent opening of the Elizabeth Line 44% of working-age Londoners will be able to reach Farringdon within 45 minutes, and we’re getting ready to be able to welcome one and all.
We look forward to playing out part both at London First, and for London.
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