Midtown is one of London’s most important economic hubs. Comprising of areas spanning Holborn, Bloomsbury, St Giles, Farringdon and Clerkenwell, it accommodates a broad range of needs as a business hotspot, a tourist hotspot and a residential community.
As several public realm studies in the area did not secure funding or progress into implementation, BEE Midtown Business Improvement District (BID) commissioned Arup to develop a joint economic and public realm strategy. The purpose was to concurrently develop the economic and public realm requirements of the area to ensure the design strategy served economic development objectives.
The strategy aims to make Midtown a safer place for active travel, relieve congestion around public transport and to encourage investment through a better quality of place.
£15.7 billion total GVA (2016)
13%of Central London economy
£9.8millionfunding from TfL
Midtown is unique. Bringing together the strength of all its neighbours, the district complements the heart of the West End whilst offering a home to professional services near the City. Midtown is also growing, with high levels of density compared to the rest of the West End and expected growth in daytime population upon completion of Crossrail.
As a major employment centre, the strategy identifies that investment in public realm is essential for encouraging end-to-end sustainable travel options for workers. This must be prioritised in the context of the area sitting at the crossroads of major arteries in London.
A collaboration of economics and public realm
Our Economics and Planning team undertook a detailed appraisal of Midtown and review of spatial and policy context. This was used to inform a ‘public realm’ baseline study that was used to set objectives for investment. As part of this, we produced a Strategic Assessment integrated with a Public Realm Delivery Plan that was HMT Green Book/TfL business case compliant. This sets out the strategic case to ensure the future development of Midtown is reflective of the development and policy goals of business and resident stakeholders. This included a delivery plan for public realm interventions to meet the strategic needs of Midtown.
Stakeholder engagement and consultation events
The project involved considerable stakeholder engagement which helped achieve local buy-in and gain traction in the formation of both project objectives and priority schemes. This was useful for an area that is characterised by fragmented land ownership and competing priorities for business, residents and visitors.
The evidence base and recommendations also informed Camden’s Supplementary Planning Documents for the area. Improvements in the public realm will contribute to Midtown’s growth as a leading centre of business and cultural activity, building on its rich history, diverse mix of uses, presence of world-leading educational institutions and architectural heritage.
We developed a strategy that brought together the economic and built environment needs of the place, including landscape architecture, urban design, transport and planning. This seamlessly integrates the design and financial rationale for public realm investment to help bring the project to fruition. ”Zach Wilcox Associate
The future for Midtown
The project has delivered a robust vision and set of actions that provided the foundation to secure funding and inform local policy guidance, all of which will deliver the investment programme for Midtown. Through this work, our team helped develop the proposal to secure funding through the Liveable Neighbourhoods programme. As a result, Camden has the green light to invest up to £9.48 million from TfL to tackle traffic and congestion in Holborn and to strip out the gyratory.
Institute of Economic Development (IED) -
Most Innovative Strategy award