Tomorrow, Londoners will get their first chance to ride on the Elizabeth line as it finally opens in a major boost for the capital.
Coming hot on the heels of the reopening of the Northern line’s Bank branch, the Elizabeth line will provide an economic shot in the arm – bringing an extra 1.5 million people to within a 45-minute commute of the Square Mile.
A world-leading public transport system is critical to the capital’s post-pandemic recovery, which is why the City of London Corporation has invested heavily in this project.
But we also need to make sure the Square Mile is a vibrant destination, so when people do get here – hopefully on the Elizabeth line – they have a reason to stay here, and want to come back.
We must seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity by redefining our leisure offer to enhance the City’s vibrancy.
This matters for small firms that depend on business, leisure and tourism footfall. It also impacts on our ability to attract top domestic and international talent, who rightly want to come to a City that offers unrivalled professional opportunities as well as a dynamic place in which to spend time.
The City of London Corporation has announced a bold new vision for the future of the Square Mile – Destination City – which will in time revitalise our streets and reinvigorate our businesses. Based on extensive feedback, it aims to establish the Square Mile as a world leading location for visitors, workers, and residents.
We have committed an annual £2.5m in investment to boost the City’s leisure offer, building on recent cross-London campaigns.
There will be a host of creative and cultural events, including outdoor festivals, music, art and sport. Cities around the world have made their financial districts humming places to be outside of the normal rhythm of our working hours.
Pre-pandemic, the City typically attracted 530,000 commuters every day. But now that’s 30 to 40 per cent lower. We can’t just tell people to come back, we have to convince them.
Senior business leaders will be given a voice for re-establishing our tourism and leisure offering and there will be a full rollout of 5G across the Square Mile. So not only can people easily visit us via the Elizabeth Line – but they can share their experiences online.
The City is already home to many existing cultural assets that attract large numbers of visitors including the Barbican, the Museum of London and many others. Destination City will build on these strengths by appealing to new as well as existing audiences.
Our objective is to create an exceptional leisure offer anchored to the City’s identity. We need a paradigm shift, ensuring that the City is important for tourism and tourism is important for the City.
This will be good for City businesses, improving the pull factors around culture that will help in the fiercely competitive global talent market. It will also be good for our SMEs, with more people spending more time and money in the Square Mile. Lastly, it will be good for residents with more activities across sport, history, culture, and leisure.
This ambitious vision will be the latest reinvention in the City’s long history and will help to safeguard its future. I will stand up for the City to make sure it is delivered.