Welcome to the start of a new year and a new decade.
For London’s West End and our 600 retailers, restaurateurs, hoteliers and property owners, change is very much the catalyst of this new decade. It’s difficult to think of a New Year that will bring so many changes at so many different levels, and below I’ve summarised some of the biggest changes that will impact London’s West End over the next few years.
Britain in 2020
Probably the most prominent and far reaching change in 2020 will be Britain’s now certain departure from the European Union, combined with the uncertainty of our future relationship. New West End Company will push to maximise opportunities, such as extending tax-free shopping to EU visitors, which could add over £1.4bn to annual sales.
And as we continue to face, together, the ongoing structural changes in retail & leisure, we will work to explore and deliver the key changes that will allow the West End to retain its world renowned position. This will include enhancing the experience for our millions of customers, making better use of our spaces, enhancing the skills and services of West End business employees and improving our environment.
Our emerging 2030 Sustainability Charter will be the foundation from which we position the West End as an International Centre that respects and enhances our environment through improved air quality, best use of energy and minimising our collective carbon emissions.
A major element of the next few years will be the long-awaited opening of the Elizabeth Line. With an estimated 60 million additional visits to the West End each year when fully operational, it has been the catalyst to a £230 million transformation of the Oxford Street district, led by Westminster City Council. Set to commence this year, the transformation will lead to more and better pedestrian spaces, proposed new gateways at Oxford Circus & Marble Arch, fewer vehicles and much cleaner air.
Changes in local planning policy will see our district of Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street formally designated as an International Centre which strengthens our call to be added to those areas exempt from Sunday trading regulations. These planning changes will also allow for greater flexibility of uses in the West End and for the creation of more commercial space and boosting local employment.
2020 heralds change at all levels of Government; We have a new, majority government and a new MP, the former Leader of Westminster City Council. We will have a new Council Leader, and we look forward to the elections for the London Mayor and Assembly Members. All of these changes give the West End new opportunities and New West End Company is already working to create and enhance its relationships with key policy makers that are so vital to the future growth and prosperity of the West End.
2020 will also be a year of change for New West End Company. Our renewal ballot this year requires a new five-year business plan that continues our success while looking forward to delivering a refreshed programme to respond to all these changes for the benefit of our West End businesses and partners.
As well as addressing the business and environmental changes, our business plan will also further develop our district’s social programmes such as helping to reduce homelessness and enhancing skills in retail and hospitality.
Achieving More Together
Working together with you, New West End Company is determined to ensure that the flood of changes that the new decade is ushering into the West End leave us stronger and more globally competitive, ensuring that as a district, we remain right up there as the world’s number one destination for customers, investors and employers.
I would like to thank the tireless work of our Board and all our members who contribute their time to New West End Company; our management team and consultants; and all our partners throughout our community who all help to respond to and deliver these vital changes.
As Chief Executive I am taking my lead from the Zen philosopher Alan Watts who said “the only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
Working together, let’s make 2020 the start of a decade of change that brings great benefits to businesses, employees, customers and residents and secures the West End’s position as the world’s top retail and leisure district.
Wishing you every West End success in 2020.