West End

I’ve just been to the launch of a volume of essays called London’s global neighbourhood – the future of the west end by the Centre for London.  The key issue discussed was how to retain the character and prosperity of the West End.   As I walked back down Newburgh Street, Broadwick Street and across Golden Square, I thought that the answers are fairly obvious:  pay close attention to the character of the original eighteenth-century streetscape and the fact that the majority of houses in Soho and offices are still small scale;  encourage an environment in which small and independent shops continue to flourish (ie don’t just wack up the rates);  acknowledge the generally benign effect of the big estates like Grosvenor, Pollen and Howard de Walden;  reduce the traffic flow;  prevent homogenisation.   This may seem obvious, but it is exactly the opposite to what has happened in the City where ever bigger corporate blocks have killed off the character of a localised environment, except in Faringdon:-

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2 thoughts on “West End

  1. Absolutely right. Excellent. Can you convey this to Sadiq Khan?

    I would add – turn the city to face the River – for the last four hundred years it has had its back to the Thames.

    This was one of the main thrusts of A NEW LONDON, the book that Richard Rogers and I wrote in 1992. We argued for a Riverside Park, from kew to the Barrier, so that people could walk beside, sit beside, eat beside. And the Thames would become a transport hub.

    It was never pursued, hence the piecemeal, ribbon development along the river that we now have : a real waste and a lost opportunity. (See the chapter on the Thames in A NEW LONDON, Penguin, 1992).

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