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A postcard from… the City of London

City of London
By Megan Sawh
06 July 2023
city of london

The City of London, one might suspect based on recent headlines, is undergoing something of a renaissance. Is it bluster or is London's original central business district genuinely reinvigorating itself this time?

There was an expectation that the City wouldn’t return post-pandemic, but the outlook now is very positive for the Square Mile. As a destination it has truly shown its resilience and come back stronger than ever.

A major celebration of the City of London came last week after HSBC announced its return, after spending almost 20 years in Canary Wharf. High up the list of reasons for moving and downsizing to the City was a combination of hybrid working – and what employees want/need from an office environment – as well as the buzz and liveliness surrounding the offices, according to a source. It appears to be part of a larger drift, which will also see the law firm giant Clifford Chance make a similar move.

There are also talks of the City of London Corporation fast-tracking applications to convert unused offices into new cultural spaces – whether that be hotels, galleries, or universities - to avoid buildings lying empty as stranded assets. In light of this, we’ve seen the City of London Corporation approve plans earlier this month to close the 1970s gyratory road around St Paul’s and transform it into the Square Mile’s largest piazza. The idea being it creates a corridor for pedestrians from the Tate Modern to the London Museum – linking up London’s iconic landmarks for workers, visitors and residents.

At a time of global competition, there is now a real opportunity for the City of London to further boost its attractiveness as a destination for people across the board. Post-pandemic, the City of London has worked to increase tourism to the Square Mile, and we’re starting to see this come to fruition. The buzz of City crowds now exceeds pre-pandemic levels on weekday evenings and weekends which is testament to the adaptability of the City and its shift to focus on the importance of tourism.

It is a unique place. Whilst home to 600 listed buildings and some 48 ancient monuments, it is its power to harness cultural change that that makes it the global powerhouse it is today – and this has played a pivotal role in its recovery.

Despite it being one of the best-connected places within one of the best-connected capital cities in the world - served by twelve underground stations, eight tube lines, and seven mainline stations - people still need a reason to come here. In June, the City of London Corporation launched a major rebranding of the City of London as a destination, which focuses on how tourism needs the City and how the City needs tourism.

It really does look like now is the time that the City opens its doors to the next chapter… watch this space.