Following the uncertainty created by the pandemic and the UK’s departure from the EU, I am delighted to kick off my term as planning and transportation chairman at the City of London Corporation with positive news for the Square Mile and the capital.
Riding on one of the first trains on the newly opened Elizabeth line last week gave me great confidence that recovery in the City is well under way. The Elizabeth line is a key artery bringing workers and visitors into the Square Mile, alongside the reopened Northern line Bank branch.
As London bounces back from the pandemic, this vital piece of infrastructure will provide increased capacity to the transport network and further bolster confidence in the City’s property market.
The City of London Corporation contributed £200m to funding the works – a vote of confidence in the Square Mile that will encourage further investment in the area.
In 2021, there was a 70% year-on-year rise in office space approved in the City. I expect to see a further increase in 2022, spurred on by improved transport links. With stations at Farringdon and Liverpool Street, the Elizabeth line will put an extra 1.5 million people within a 45-minute commute of the City.
Shorter journey times, more comfortable trains and reduced congestion created by increased capacity will encourage more workers back into the Square Mile, stimulating the already strong demand for high-quality office space and supporting our retail and hospitality sectors.
But the City is not only a place for work. We have a bold vision – Destination City – to ensure the Square Mile is a vibrant destination for leisure and culture, as well as a world-leading hub for the financial and professional services sector.
Last year, the City of London Corporation’s planning and transportation committee approved 90,415 sq ft of flexible retail space and 75,350 sq ft of community, skills, training, education and cultural spaces. I hope to see this grow even further this year as the City opens up to new audiences.
The Elizabeth line is expected to bring an extra one million new visitors and tourists into the City each year, where they can enjoy our ever-growing leisure offer.
With a burgeoning cultural sector developing around Farringdon, we look forward to welcoming many more visitors to the City on evenings and weekends, boosted by 24-hour service on the central section of the line expected next year.
The Elizabeth line will also support the City Corporation’s Transport Strategy and Climate Action Strategy, ensuring we can avoid a car-led recovery in central London and realise our vision of a vibrant, sustainable and thriving City.
I have been lucky to mark a major milestone so early in my term as planning and transportation chairman and I look forward to welcoming more positive news throughout my chairmanship.
As we emerge into the ‘new normal’, I see the property market in the Square Mile rebuilding even stronger than it was before.
Shravan Joshi is chairman of the City of London Corporation planning and transportation committee