As anyone who visits the City with any degree of regularity will be able to testify, streetworks (for, traditionally, there are no highways called “roads” in the City) can be incredibly frustrating. However, these projects are vital to the City’s continuing competitiveness as a centre for international finance.
The City’s transport network is a key component of its competitive offer and requires constant attention. Of course high impact schemes such as Crossrail and tube upgrades are central to this and generate a lot of publicity – not to mention lots of holes in our streets – but the smaller projects, designed to keep our streets running smoothly and in good condition are equally important.
We must also be aware that the City’s streets not only provide transport links above ground but that they act as conduits for the vital utilities on which firms based in the Square Mile are so reliant.
If the City cannot provide businesses with the latest technology, providing faster, more consistent internet coverage and greater efficiency savings then they will start to look at other business districts that can. Put simply, it is impossible to maintain a world class business district by standing still.
By liaising with other London authorities, TfL and the utility and construction companies themselves, City of London employees continue to work tirelessly coordinating and planning streetworks in order to minimise the disruption caused to City life.
Unfortunately, such long term planning cannot solve all our problems. There will always be urgent works that cannot be accounted for – especially on such an ancient street network.
The City of London’s website provides a comprehensive map of current and future streetworks that is well used by City firms and City residents but we understand there is always room for improvement and are looking to provide clearer “on street” signage. By providing more detailed and easily accessible information, and by promoting smarter streetworks practices, we are trying to strike a balance between the long-term interests of the City and the immediate priorities of City workers, residents and tourists.
What we do not want to do, and indeed what we simply cannot afford to do, is to discourage firms from undertaking work that – in the long run – will help us to maintain a world-class business environment.
Stuart Fraser is the Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation