City of London boosts public space offerings

Catherine McGuinness

This summer is a perfect opportunity for residents, workers and visitors to go out and explore the Square Mile.

We want to make sure that the City of London’s bustling streets continue to offer a safe and enjoyable environment not just for the next few months, but also in the years ahead.

This challenge is made all the more acute by the continued growth of our working population, particularly in the iconic City Cluster, and the forthcoming Elizabeth line, which will bring an additional 1.5million people to within 45 minutes of the Square Mile.

Increasing demand makes it even more important that we are innovative when it comes to making use of our limited space.

That is why the City of London Corporation, through our Active City Network, is arranging ‘Lunchtime Streets’. This initiative offers an opportunity to reimagine what the City’s streets and public realm may look like in the future by enabling people to enjoy a traffic-free lunch break.

St Mary Axe was closed to motor vehicles last week so that residents, workers and visitors could enjoy a wide range of food stalls, live music and other fun activities.

Next month (3-5 September), Chancery Lane will also be partly closed to traffic at lunchtime. This event, supported by the Chancery Lane Association, will involve many local businesses and restaurants to create a vibrant environment.

‘Lunchtime Streets’ is in line with the City Corporation’s ambitious Transport Strategy and draft City Plan, which aim to prioritise pedestrians, promote cleaner and healthier ways to travel, and increase the amount of high-quality public space available.

As more people choose to cycle or walk, it is only right that we create an environment that encourages these more active and sustainable forms of transport.

Such a shift will support our efforts to improve air quality in the Capital for the benefit of all. Big strides have already been taken on this front, with the regeneration of Aldgate Square helping to improve air quality at the neighbouring Sir John Cass Foundation Primary School.

We have also banned the purchase of diesel vehicles from our own fleet where there is a clean market alternative, and plan to turn parts of the Square Mile into zero-emissions zones by 2022.

Our draft air quality strategy, which will be finalised later this summer, will strengthen this work by increasing our collaboration with organisations across London.

It will also boost our partnerships with schools by helping them to develop individual air quality action plans.

In order to remain a world leading centre for business and innovation, we must make sure that the City continues to provide an attractive, safe and healthy environment for people to live, work and play.

We are firmly committed to taking the bold steps needed to ensure the Square Mile is fit for the future.