We’ve had the Prime Minister’s route out of lockdown, and just yesterday Rishi Sunak gave us his Budget road to recovery. Today (March 4th), it’s the turn of us as a local authority to launch our own blueprint.
Powering up the West End’s economy after lockdown, getting visitors back into the capital and creating jobs for local people are at the centre of our revamped 10-year plan, City for All.
After months in the shadows it’s time to lift the shutters, open the shops and give our people their City back.
City for All sets the direction for Westminster into the next decade with targets for a greener and cleaner environment; a smarter place to live and work with technology at its core and a place with vibrant communities where people get the chance of an affordable home and a good school.
The new pillar of the plan – thriving economy – puts a revival of the West End and local shopping streets at the centre of the council’s vision.
Getting Westminster open for business again includes measures like:
- Rolling out a major scheme of al fresco dining areas to benefit the City’s 3,700 licenced restaurants, pubs and cafes
- Refreshing Oxford Street – “the nation’s high street” – with a £150m programme including the visionary “Marble Arch Mount” viewing platform
- Using our headline cultural events like West End LIVE and Inside Out to promote our unique arts heritage with a range of exciting performances and content that will attract people back to the West End
- More flexible licensing and planning policies so businesses don’t get bogged down in red tape
- Attracting start-up “challenger” brands to set up in Westminster
- Providing more training and apprenticeship opportunities to Westminster’s young people.
The West End creates one in ten of all jobs in London and it is an economic engine for the whole country – what happens in Westminster matters nationally.
With the prospect of lockdown measures being progressively lifted, we are working now to get Westminster ready to start trading and receiving visitors in safety.
We have seen some popular high street names disappear and migrate to the internet, so we need to be ready for the new world of retail and leisure post-COVID-19 – one where our City centre offers entertainment and culture alongside bricks and mortar shops.
Other key pillars in City for All are:
Greener and cleaner: ensuring all new buildings cut emissions; working with the freight industry to cut down on deliveries and rolling out hundreds of electric vehicle charging points
Vibrant communities: building 1,850 affordable homes by 2023; a new licensing scheme to improve conditions for 4,000 homes in the private rented sector; turning libraries into community “hubs” to offer employment and cultural services
Smart City: introducing smart technology like sensors to improve road safety; facilitating full-fibre broadband to social housing properties by the end of 2021 and ensuring it is a feature of all new affordable housing; providing new care solutions for the vulnerable using services like Alexa.
I was humbled by the fact more than 3,000 people volunteered to help their fellow residents as part of the Westminster Connects initiative during the height of the pandemic, and I want to bottle that spirit and keep it going as the country recovers.
Our blueprint isn’t just about jobs and the economy; it is also very much about the 260,000 people who call Westminster home.
The Prime Minister has set out the key dates nationally for the easing of restrictions. As we work towards June 21st, I am confident our proposals are the right road map to lead us out of lockdown, and to a future that promises opportunity to everyone in a City for All.
Leader of Westminster City Council
Cllr Rachael Robathan