The Square Mile’s long transformation continues

POLICY CHAIRMAN, CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION

THE wind of change is blowing through the City and in this instance, I am not referring to London’s financial heart in the wake of the economic crisis. I am talking about One New Change, Cheapside’s largest shopping destination, which is set to transform the Square Mile.

Is that hyperbole? I don’t think so – and neither do my colleagues at the City of London Corporation, which is supporting Land Securities’ newest flagship development.

Twenty five years ago, the City of London was a very different place, characterised by drab office blocks and purely traditional architecture. The lack of shops and restaurants meant there was little reason to visit the City beyond its historic landmarks.

Now, I’m pleased to say, it’s a different story. The City of London’s skyline has changed dramatically, as has its retail landscape. It is a leader in exciting, cutting-edge building design; from the Gherkin and Heron Tower to the under-construction Pinnacle, all of which complement the area’s traditional neo-classical architecture. One of the major changes in the last decade is the emerging bar and restaurant scene in the Square Mile, in addition to a wide range of luxury fashion boutiques, in particular around Royal Exchange.

There is now a café culture in the City. We have brought back shopping to the Square Mile. The City of London Information Centre opposite St Paul’s Cathedral has just welcomed its one-millionth visitor, just three years after it opened. Clubs in Cornhill are bustling with young people. Today the City is so much more than just a place to do business.

And we hope that visitors will not only enjoy the cafes and restaurants, but also combine food and drink with cultural attractions; be it at St Paul’s Cathedral, the City’s Barbican International Arts Centre or at the nearby Museum of London.

I have no doubt that One New Change will be a tremendous success. Open seven days a week and bringing together 60 cafés, restaurants, big brands and independent stores under one roof, it will stamp its distinctive mark on the City. A sixth-floor public roof terrace opening next month will enable people to enjoy spectacular views of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Leading architect Jean Nouvel based his striking design on the US stealth bomber, but there will be nothing stealthy or subtle about the positive impact that One New Change will have on the City. I do hope you enjoy your visit.

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