The old saying ‘confidence is key’ has never been more relevant as we continue to see a return of the buzz, vibrancy and entrepreneurial spark that has come to characterise the Square Mile.
Confidence is critical in ensuring the City remains relevant and attractive as we approach the latter stages of the pandemic. As decision-makers within the City of London Corporation, we must also instil confidence in others as they venture back to the office, and plan investment and career decisions.
The former is quite simple, based on the pillar that has seen the Square Mile resolutely continue and survive through multiple historical challenges – namely that of self-belief. A conviction that the City really is a unique place to work and visit and an appreciation that the Square Mile is not just a place where business is done, but also where people come together to socialise in the labyrinth of historical alleyways and heritage assets that co-exist with the cutting edge of our sustainable future environment.
The latter is perhaps more challenging and nuanced than first appears. It is about restoring the confidence to work in the City on a regular basis, especially against the backdrop of ever-changing dynamics within the pandemic.
I’m sure we have all experienced that buzz of seeing life returning in earnest to the Square Mile
Yet it is vital we do so, not only from an economic perspective, but from a cultural and social one too.
I’m sure we have all experienced that buzz of seeing life returning in earnest to the streets of the Square Mile and smiled at the sight of friends and colleagues greeting each other in the bustling restaurants and cafés once more.
While we are seeing good progress, this must be resilient in the face of the challenges we are up against. It is vital we do all we can to extend the stay of those who return to the City for business; to draw them back to the vibrancy of the after-work cultural outing, or the globally renowned dining experience.
Fundamental to this is creating a climate of confidence across the Square Mile so the City once more pulsates with energy into the evening and weekends.
Fortunately, there is evidence this happening. TfL data shows City stations are busier than they have been since before Covid. The Waterloo & City Line once again fired up earlier this year, and we hope to see it soon return fully to boost capacity for commuters. It is now a common sight to see queues spilling out of cafés.
To build on this momentum and increase confidence, we have recently launched a new campaign – Square Smile – to support retail, leisure and hospitality businesses, as well as cultural attractions, by encouraging people back into the Square Mile for work and play.
Ultimately, the City has always been a place for people to do business and to meet with friends and family. It is a place of opportunity and enjoyment. By continuing to provide a social and inclusive, world-leading built environment, we will ensure the Square Mile continues to go from strength to strength.
Alastair Moss is chair of the City of London Corporation’s planning and transportation committee