City of London maps out post-Covid strategy for culture and business 


Culture and business leaders are planning how to reinvigorate the City as it adapts to a new way of working after lockdown, which could see longer weekends when the Square Mile is less busy.

More than half of its 21m annual visitors are on business trips and half-a-million workers commuted into the Square Mile on weekdays pre pandemic.

Tourists also flocked to take in attractions including St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Museum of London as well as the nearby Tower of London.

Nick Bodger who is the City of London Corporation’s Cultural & Visitor Development Director said its recovery plan includes a reopening campaign over the next six months led by Lord Mayor William Russell. They are also planning for the next five years as the UK picks itself up after lockdown.

The Corporation has been talking to many businesses about their views to help plan for the future and the impact on city businesses and service industries such as hospitality and arts venues.

Mr Bodger said there could be dramatic change with fewer commuters around at the end of the week – a time which has traditionally seen booming business after work in pubs and restaurants in the Square Mile.

“We suspect it may be a Tuesday to Thursday intensity and density with a longer space at weekends,” he said.

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He explained at the Barbican board meeting (Weds March 24) that this could pose a challenge.

“How do we adapt to that working pattern and how do we address weekends that are longer?” he said.

The robust plan will emphasise the City’s importance as a “world-class business” centre offering “outstanding environments, including the right work spaces and vibrant offer across retail, hospitality, culture and tourism.”

The City will be running a five-year marketing campaign to encourage and excite workers about coming back.

It will focus on selling the historic areas as a “the unseen city and city of surprises, most importantly trying to really give an incentive for people in work rather than working from home.”

And after nearly a year of home working for many businesses normally based in the City it wants “to shift perceptions around the City and who belongs in the City, what it is for.”

He stressed that businesses depend on people coming back to the City, which has been a “hollowed out centre” during lockdown, with the absence of office workers and tourists.

Earlier this spring the Corporation announced a £50m plan to support shops, hospitality and other independent businesses in the City.

The City is also considering if traffic-free weekends could be viable and what the night-time economy could look like.

It will unveil more plans in the next few months.

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