A huge hill is to be built on one of the world’s most iconic shopping streets as part of the fightback against Covid.
Hopes are high that the massive 25-metre temporary visitor centre at Marble Arch Hill will help get tourists flooding back to London.
Visitors will get an “incredible“ bird’s-eye view of London from a 25 metre viewing platform which it’s hoped could attract 200,000 sightseers to the heart of London.
The hill will be half the height of Nelson’s Column and will have a walkway to a viewing gallery. You’ll be able to look out with stunning views over Oxford Street, Hyde Park and Westminster.
It’s probably going to be the tallest hill in central London, beating the 18-metre-high Cornhill in the City centre.
Some 200,000 people might have the chance to climb the hill before it’s taken down at the end of the year.
You will have to book in advance and it’s possible there will be a “nominal” entrance charge.
Visitors will climb to the viewpoint on a path that winds its way up the mound’s southern flank. They then descend into a hall inside the structure that will be used for events and exhibitions.
It’s hoped visitor numbers will be high given its location close to Oxford Street and Hyde Park, and attract them to other must-see destinations in the West End and beyond.
Westminster City Council leader Rachel Robathan said: “Our proposed Marble Arch Hill temporary visitor attraction … will be important for bringing in visitors to support the local economy.
“However, it will offer so much more. We hope it will give people an opportunity to look afresh and with wonder at this well known, but sadly increasingly overlooked, area to recognise its beauty and importance.”
It’s part of Westminster City Council’s long-planned £150 million blueprint for the Oxford Street shopping and business district which normally attracts 200 million visitors a year.
The area around the 1.9km (1.2m) shopping street supports 155,000 jobs and contributes £13 billion in gross added value to the economy.
And when the Elizabeth line opens next year an estimated 60 million more visitors are expected each year.
Stations will open onto Dean Street, Hanover Square and Davies Street which the council says will “significantly“ alter the way people move around the district.
Research by the New West End Company (NWEC) suggests that over one-fifth of Oxford Street may not reopen when the latest lockdown ends.
The area has already suffered a body blow as Topshop and Debenhams announced their closures due to the pandemic.
NWEC chief executive, Jace Tyrrell, said: “The past 12 months have been the toughest on record for businesses on Oxford Street and the surrounding area, and these ambitious plans are a sign of a forward thinking, sustainable and agile future for the district, creating an altogether stronger and more exciting high street that caters to the needs of the ever-evolving consumer.”
Westminster Council is also looking at pop up shops, more pedestrian space, pop up parks and landscaping to make the area more attractive for visitors.
And its long-term plans include investment in Oxford Circus and Bond Street, Marble Arch and East Oxford Street, measures to improve air quality with a pedestrian-first approach and a zero-emission transport network.
Kay Buxton, Chief Executive for Marble Arch London BID, said: “We are proud to be working with Westminster City Council to create a truly unique and once in a lifetime opportunity to see London from a completely new perspective.
“Marble Arch Hill is a clarion call to the recovery of London’s hospitality and leisure sector, in an enduring, world-renowned destination.
“We hope that once visitors and tourists are able to return, that they take advantage of this spectacular attraction and whilst here, book a stay at one of the fantastic hotels located in the area and enjoy the excellent mix of restaurants, cafes and bars we have on offer.”
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