Heart of London Business Alliance (HOLBA), the Business Improvement District (BID) that represents one of the most culturally rich areas in the world, has unveiled its manifesto for the next five years, with a programme of activity to help the West End recover and thrive from the pandemic as a global cultural and commercial powerhouse.
The centrepiece of the BID’s business plan – West End 2027 – is its placeshaping strategy, which includes over 40 potential projects, with five immediate priority projects, all designed to preserve and enhance the unique character of the central London area.
The public realm schemes will include the creation of a new Arts Quarter in the network of small streets behind the National Gallery, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. The Arts Quarter is anticipated to bring forward £1 billion of investment as development opportunities come forward.
HOLBA also proposes the transformation of Green Park to create a world-class welcome for visitors as they arrive on Piccadilly, and to turn Charing Cross Road into a tree-lined boulevard to accommodate the estimated 80% increase in people arriving to the area via the Elizabeth Line. St Martin’s Lane and Sackville Street will also be transformed to reflect the quality of businesses in the area.
Ros Morgan, chief executive, Heart of London Business Alliance, said: “Central London is renowned for being the commercial and cultural heartland of the UK and our purpose is to protect and promote it on behalf of our members, cementing it as the greatest city in the world to live, visit, work, trade and invest.
“We have grown not only in terms of the area we cover and businesses we represent but also in terms of our influence and ability to effect positive change. While we are a not-for-profit organisation, we operate with commercial acumen and relentlessly pursue excellent returns for our members.
“We are committed to ensuring the West End comes back from the pandemic even stronger than before.
“Part of our strategy includes bringing culture onto the streets and integrating art into the built environment, which is based on the idea that it will be more important than ever to have spaces in the West End that people want to come back to, particularly as footfall from workers and tourists picks up.”
London’s creative economy is worth £52bn and the West End is home to over 300 cultural institutions, including art galleries, theatres and music venues. Recognising that this unique ecosystem will play a significant role in the recovery of the UK post-pandemic, HOLBA has put in place a comprehensive cultural strategy to connect businesses and cultural players within the Heart of London area to promote the area as the Cultural Heart of London. The output from this cultural strategy has already included the Art of London, a new cultural initiative for the West End, championing the cultural sector, celebrating art in every form and
showcasing the vital role culture plays in society. The Cultural Heart of London launched with the inaugural Art of London Summer Season 2021, with one of the largest public art takeovers the world has seen. The events and activations were all supported by some of London’s leading art institutions, including The National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, alongside Sky Arts, Westminster City Council and the Mayor of London.
HOLBA’s business plan further commits to working with the government to drive policy change that will help London maintain its status as a global city.
Ballot papers will be distributed on 3 February 2022 and must be returned by 5pm 3 March 2022. The results will be announced on 4 March 2022.