Understandably, we are hearing the phrase “these are uncertain times” more and more often. However, I remain incredibly positive and optimistic about our capital city.
As the City of London Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee chairman, I am certain that the City will continue to thrive, foster innovation and develop at a fast pace.
The record-breaking sales of the Cheesegrater and Walkie-Talkie were votes of international confidence in City commercial property. As of September 2017, more than 1.36m sq m of office space was under construction, with the potential to accommodate over 85,500 workers.
The City’s world-class cultural offer is also growing. Major plans are taking shape to relocate the Museum of London from London Wall to the former Smithfield General Market buildings in five or six years’ time. The proposed Centre for Music – potentially built on the site vacated by the Museum of London – would be a landmark new space.
The significance of the Elizabeth line for Londoners will also be unparalleled. As well as benefiting international leisure and business travellers with its direct links to Heathrow, it is estimated that the Elizabeth line will support the creation of more than 60,000 jobs in the City of London and Isle of Dogs.
To accommodate the increase in City commuters, this year we will engage extensively with stakeholders to develop a long-term Local Plan and Transport Strategy, for publication in 2019. City policy on electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as servicing and freight consolidation, will also be reviewed.
We are also looking at reshaping City streets to be healthier, safer and more efficient. The Holborn Circus Area Enhancement project has received awards for safety, public space improvement and statue conservation, but most importantly reduced accidents involving cyclists by 91%. We want to see similar results at Bank junction. The 18-month experimental scheme restricts traffic flow through the junction to buses and cyclists only, between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Friday. I’m pleased that we have seen a 56% reduction in collisions to date.
As transport infrastructure and new buildings evolve, so does our traditional City tenant mix. Nearly 99% of City firms are SMEs and the lines are blurring between the City and surrounding tech hubs such as Shoreditch. TMT now represents 8% of the City workforce and in the past 18 months companies such as Amazon, Saatchi & Saatchi, Booking.com and Deliveroo have moved to the City.
A trendier crowd is flocking to the City, with our hospitality, nightlife and restaurants attracting and retaining a creative talent pool
Digital connectivity is a vital service for SMEs, and last year we delivered a free wifi network offering unparalleled individual user speeds of one gigabit per second across the Square Mile. We will also consider how we can improve the provision of affordable workspaces to encourage SMEs to continue to select the City.
A trendier crowd is flocking to the City, with our hospitality, nightlife and restaurants attracting and retaining a creative talent pool. Additionally, City skyscrapers are growing more attractive to new occupiers. 22 Bishopsgate will host an innovation hub for start-ups, a wellness centre, a rock-climbing wall and free public viewing gallery available to all.
Throughout 2018, the City Corporation will continue to work tirelessly to support the future growth and success of the Square Mile as a unique place that attracts more visitors, businesses and residents.