The past few weeks have been full of important events shaping the West End’s present and future, but the most noteworthy has been, by the far, the London Mayoral Elections. On behalf of New West End Company and myself, I would like to congratulate Sadiq Khan on his election but to also extend my congratulations to all candidates on their strong and steadfast campaigns. The new Mayor and his new team will have a progressive and positive influence on the 600 businesses we represent in London’s top retail destination, and we look forward to collaborating with him on many future projects driving jobs and growth in the West End
It seems as the seasons change, London seems to also realign its focus slightly looking towards the future. A common theme these past two weeks have been celebrating past and present achievements.
Looking forward, and upwards, The WPA and High Commission of Canada held a seminar details the findings from New London Architecture (NLA) and GL Hearn’s ‘London Tall Buildings Survey 2016’. Exploring how the built environment is changing modern London and the role London’s tallest buildings have in shaping the capital was particularly interesting for me. In an ever changing and growing city we are constantly assessing how we can adapt to contemporary commercial needs and the requirement to balance heritage and development whilst providing enough room for growth in all aspects of the West End.
Continuing to look to the future The next morning I joined Shaftesbury, property investors in London’s West End like Carnaby Street and Covent Garden, for their Community Partners Breakfast 2016. It was so energising to be surrounding by fellow champions for the West End and share ideas of how we can maintain and progress its reputable ranking as a top shopping and investment destination. With that same day I balanced out by celebrating some of our finest heritage at the 50th anniversary of Westminster City Council to see Cllr Robert Davis DL, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for the Built Environment, unveiling two commemorative lion sculptures outside City Hall.
London is united by a multitude of companies, people and groups who all want the same for London – to build the biggest skyscrapers, be the best retail district, have the most iconic heritage. We know we have challenges, but a collective will to protect the past and grow the city will , in my mind make sure we remain the envy of the world and the premier destination for shoppers, retailers and investors.
I finished the workweek events by attending two West End centric events. On Thursday, 28 April, Mayfair Neighbourhood Forum, a Business Forum comprising those who live and/or work in Mayfair, held its AGM to present the findings from its consultations with residents and businesses in the area. In all our projects we are always conscious of our local residents whose passion for the area shapes much of the atmosphere of the West End. As a company we positively and actively engage with all our local neighbour forums to ensure we all work together aligning our goals to build more sustainable communities for the future, the West End is for all people, and its residents are the constant foundation of this unique area.
Last Friday, Centre for London held a roundtable on the a collection of essays they are producing to highlight opportunities and challenges unique to the West End with four key areas – 1) addressing pressures from new developments, infrastructure and technology, 2) retaining a social mix that makes our area unique, 3) improve road usage and air quality, and 4) working with government to improve other factors, such as housing, public realm and policing. With over 20 leading West End businesses professionals, researchers, cultural leaders, government officials, and stakeholders attending it meant for a lively debate – but one thing we all hold in common is the certainty that the West End needs to adapt to thrive.
Work is never restricted to the week, and Bank Holiday I found myself eying up some super cars at Regents Street’s Gumball3000 rally. Swapping politicians for celebrities, and debating for DJs, it was an excellent day showcasing the diversity West End brings to the Central London. The following week was a full schedule once again, but a standout event was Craft Night at the V&A. It was a beautiful evening that truly showcased the other beautiful aspects of our capital outside of the West End that makes London the unique place it is. I finally finished a fortnight of events by joining CBRE in the exceptional weather we’re having for a reception at the Selfridges room garden. Can you blame me?