Finance

Four ways the City of London Corporation plans to boost the Square Mile

The City of London Corporation published its vision for the next five years as it sets out to rebuild the Square Mile post pandemic and Brexit.

This comes after the group surveyed more than 4,600 members of the public on its plans and validated the recommendations with around 250 senior leaders. The corporation published a report on 27 April in partnership with the Oliver Wyman consultancy, with a series of proposals. 

Here are some of the highlights:

1,500 new residential units

The corporation aims to have at least 1,500 new residential units in the Square Mile by 2030. These will be part of an “exploration” of new ways to use vacant space as many offices stand empty in the centre of London. 

“There is no denying that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed some ways of working and accelerated some positive trends that were evident already in urban centres such as the City of London,” Alastair Moss, planning and transportation chair at the City of London Corporation, said in a statement.

Many City firms have said it is likely that employees will work in a hybrid manner, splitting their time between the office and home. HSBC is the latest bank to announce a change to a hybrid working model “wherever possible”.

“We will work even more closely with the property sector to promote increasingly sustainable, flexible and adaptable buildings that people will thrive in,” Moss added. The report added that new developments and refurbishments will have a low environmental footprint.

“Firms have told us that they remain committed to retaining a central London hub but how they operate will inevitably change to reflect post-pandemic trends, such as hybrid and flexible working,” said Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation.

5G across the Square Mile

The governing body will also look to make 5G available across the Square Mile by the end of 2022.

The corporation said that it would work on a pilot with mobile infrastructure services provider Cornerstone along Queen Victoria Street before extending the coverage to the rest of the City.

Traffic-free weekends

Traffic-free Saturdays or Sundays in the summer could be rolled out, alongside an all-night cultural celebration, as the governing body looks to balance the use of space as workers split their time between their homes and the office. 

These kinds of activities “will respond to changes in working patterns and potential lower-use periods, engaging audiences through community-led content and driving them to retail and hospitality businesses when the City’s workforce is absent,” the report said. 

READ ‘Some people just aren’t coming back’ – City retailers under pressure from lockdown and homeworking

Cities have been heavily impacted by the restrictions imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus over the last year, with businesses near offices particularly impacted as workers continue to work from home.

“The Square Mile must evolve in order to provide an ecosystem that remains attractive to workers, visitors, learners and residents,” McGuinness added. “This will involve encouraging growth, fostering talent from all backgrounds, providing a vibrant leisure offer and offering outstanding environments.”

More pedestrian priority streets and wider pavements

The governing body wants to make the City more accessible by creating more pedestrian priority streets as well as add extra bike parking facilities and extend the cycling network.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Bérengère Sim

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