The hard-hit Square Mile will suffer because of Michael Gove’s decision to reject developer’s appeal, says NLA founder Peter Murray
The idea of the Tulip was planted long before covid-19 came along – but the government’s decision to reject the proposal is a kick in the teeth for the Corporation of London’s post-pandemic recovery plans for the hard-hit Square Mile.
>> Also read: Tulip team mulling rethink in bid to save £500m project
Those that have come back to work in the City are doing a three-day week – Thursday, Wednesday and Thursday – and accordingly known as TWaTs. At weekends the area is dead.
The Tulip could have helped to change that, encouraging people to explore the ancient streets of Roman Londinium as well as the contemporary cultural mile. It would have given new hope to SMEs, retailers and hospitality outlets who have suffered horrendously during the pandemic.
The Tulip responded to the Corporation of London’s strategy to bring visitors into the heart of the City to create a seven-days-a-week “retail, leisure and cultural destination”. The draft city plan says “complementary land uses will be encouraged to enhance vibrancy and viability, extending to weekends to diversify the City, its economy and community”.
Bars, restaurants and shops need at least five and preferably seven days’ trading to survive. If the amenities of the Square Mile wither away, so will the occupiers.
With workers spending less time in the City, it needs more visitors, more attractions and a greater range of amenities
Brexit and the government’s soporific support of the financial sector has done great damage to London’s economy. While there may be little sympathy for the banking community, there should be concerns for the levelling up agenda as the substantial contributions to UK plc delivered by the City start to diminish.
The future of the area will inevitably be a greater mix of uses than in the past. With workers spending less time in the City, it needs more visitors, more attractions and a greater range of amenities.
The decision to kill off the Tulip is a missed opportunity to deliver positive change in the post-pandemic city.
Peter Murray is curator-in-chief of New London Architecture (NLA)