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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
City aims to draw weekend shoppers
By JIM PICKARD
27 May 2006
Financial Times

Thousands of people are to be lured into the Square Mile at weekends to go shopping under plans being drawn up by the City of London Corporation.

During the week the City is frenetic with the activity of more than 300,000 workers. Yet on Saturdays and Sundays the area is deserted as it is not seen as a leisure destination and shoppers head to the West End.

But the City's corporation is urging developers to bring in new retailers - including department store operators such as John Lewis and Harvey Nichols - to attract more people beyond the weekday nine to five.

The area already has shops that are popular during the week, said Peter Wynne Rees, chief planning officer at the corporation. For example, the store in the Royal Exchange is Tiffany's most successful in the UK.

"There are plenty of shoppers who pop out from work and have money burning a hole in their pockets, that is not a problem," said Mr Rees. "We need to convince retailers that people will also shop at weekends and that they can drive in and park here," said Mr Rees.

The move comes as the City fights competition from Canary Wharf to retain its role as London's financial motor. But its attempts to metamorphose from a weekend ghost town into a vibrant 24-hour destination may be hampered by its refusal to allow many more people to live in the area.

Only another 1,000 homes will be built in area in the next decade -- on top of a current population of 7,000.

Canary Wharf, by contrast, has become a weekend destination for those living across the East End and the Docklands area. It typically draws 50,000 shoppers on a Saturday and 30,000 on a Sunday.

City planners are loath to allow many more flats because residents often oppose new office schemes on their doorstep.

Plans are afoot from various developers to build more than 1m sq ft of new retail space in the City - the equivalent of a large out-of-town shopping centre.

It was vital to make sure this was used for "exciting" outlets rather than the "usual" chains such as Boots or Woolworths, said Mr Rees. "People are not going to travel in to visit the sort of shops that they can quite easily visit where they live."

The proposals were met with scepticism by some workers enjoying their lunch break yesterday at Cheapside, in the heart of the City.

"Because I work here it's the last place I would go at a weekend," said Susan McCarthy, 40, a bank worker. "I suppose if there were cafes and interesting shops open at the weekend you might come here but at the moment it is a catch-22 because there aren't."

Mr Rees at the corporation said developers were already building new shop space, for example at Asticus's development at 14 Cornhill and Legal & General's Bucklersbury House.

Perhaps the biggest catalyst could be One New Change, where more than 200,000 sq ft of retail is planned. Land Securities, the developer, hopes it will attract tourists visiting nearby St Paul's Cathedral.

The corporation has held meetings with developers to co-ordinate a drive to create a "unique shopping area".

"The unique selling point of the City is that it's not just a shopping mall like anywhere else, this is shopping in the heart of a heritage centre, between Wren churches, fabulous Georgian buildings, a juxtaposition of retailing and architecture," said Mr Rees.
 

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I think the decision not to allow many more residential properties is the big problem at the moment for the City as I can't see it pulling alot of shoppers away from the West End.

A few quality residential towers wouldn't go amiss :)
 

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I suppose it is a good idea to point out to those not familiar with London, that the "city" is not as defined by most other city's around the world as the downtown area, but is a historical core known as the square mile, and original "city" of London. Today it is basically just offices, most of the shopping areas of downtown London are found further west. A good description can be found here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_london

Maybe developers could see more residential properties in the city if they forced buyers to sign clauses to not oppose any further developments ???
 

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Great idea, the City is extremely deserted during weekends.
7000 current population? Where on earth do they live? Barbician? :?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Would it make economic sense to drop a commercial development and put up a residential instead? If that is more profitable, then it would've happened a long time ago.
 

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I'm not sure why we'd worry about the lack of weekend activity. The City has its role. Not every urban district needs to be a shopping mecca.

If nearby residents aren't well served then that's different. But there must be good opportunities right outside the square mile in every direction. I don't spend much time in the City -- is this the case? If not, might some shopping be built outside the district instead?

Housing is another story. Some number of workers would love to live near the office, and this should be accommodated. An increase from 7,000 to 10,000 or 15,000 would do wonders for "neighborhood" retail, adding to the existing lunch/pub retail.
 

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hkskyline said:
Would it make economic sense to drop a commercial development and put up a residential instead? If that is more profitable, then it would've happened a long time ago.
think however mostly the city doesn't want residential developments as sudden;y they have to start building schools etc.
 

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I thought another reason why they didn't want new residents was something to do with changing the voting area or something? Perhaps someone could expand on that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I don't think residential areas in the City would be geared towards families with children, but rather small units for younger professionals. Those with children would probably prefer a house with a bit more space out in zone 3 and beyond.
 
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