London's West End is going through a period of considerable change. The ongoing transformation of the retail industry, the advent of the Elizabeth line and major public realm schemes are just a few examples of factors that will have a material impact on its future.
The West End is of vital importance to London and local government. With growth targets for employment and housing set out in the Mayor of London's draft London plan, the Greater London Authority approached Arup to undertake a review of risks and opportunities facing the area. GLA wanted to assess whether the West End can deliver on and meet its broader obligations as part of London’s Central Activities Zone (CAZ).
Our Economic Planning team produced a set of recommendations to ensure the West End’s unique economic ecosystem is secured to support Oxford Street’s position. We assessed traditional sectors that make up the West End’s economy, such as food & beverage and “bricks and mortar” retail, but also entertainment and cultural institutions, future retail, with a focus on experiential offers such as flagships, to understand how these fit together to maximise good growth.
124,000 new jobs in the West End by 2041
£4.9billionadditional business rates in 2041
£20.5billionadditional GVA will be generated in 2041
Determining growth scenarios and developing an economic impact model
To inform projections for the West End, we undertook a detailed analysis to capture the effect of the major trends which are likely to impact the characteristics and composition of land uses in the area, including:
cost of business
Growth targets of major transport investment projects (most notably Crossrail 1 and Crossrail 2) were also considered in the study to determine its impact.
Through the cross referencing of original analysis, international case studies and extensive work on the area, our analysis suggested that the following conditions are required to unlock the full potential for good growth in the West End:
Proactive strategy enabling engagement with key stakeholders, residents, workers and visitors
Mix of use from retail, residential, commercial, cultural, food and beverage
Range of offers from premium through to high street, as well as cultural programming of high quality and flexible public space, to meet the needs of residents, workers and visitors
Below, we set out a set of our principal recommendations that tied back to Good Growth outcomes, as detailed in the report:
Policy: Adopt a flexible policy approach to allow the area to fulfil more of its economic and social value potential that is aligned to international, national, regional, Central Activity Zone, borough and neighbourhood functions
City Management and Financing: Secure a long-term sustainable financial footing by protecting/enhancing the residential quality of life and the wellbeing of visitors and workers in the West End
Engagement: Ensure collaborative working between London government entities and their functional bodies (e.g. TfL) alongside the private sector and Business Improvement Districts (BIDS)
The West End’s relevance and attractiveness may be at risk in the future as consumer tastes evolve and economic circumstances change. Findings are time-sensitive and relevant only to current conditions at the time of writing.