Invitation to first public meeting about Destination City

Update : I developed a set of pages on this wiki bringing together official reports, articles and blog posts about Destination City for the November 7 event. The meeting with about 100 residents prompted a lively discussion – see note at the end.

On November 7 the Destination City team will hold their first public meeting with residents to explain how the City Corporation’s programme “aims to transform the Square Mile’s leisure offer, creating a leading destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy”.

The flyer for the meeting adds: “We invite you to hear from the Programme Director and her team about the aims and progress of Destination City and how you can contribute/get involved”.

Councillor Brendan Barns, who is the Resident Representative on the City Envoy Network “will be building a residents panel to input into the Destination City programme.”

The meeting is at St Giles Church from 6.30 – 8.30pm, organised as a Cripplegate Ward meeting. However, all local residents are welcome.

The highlight of the Destination City programme so far has been the Bartholomew Fair spectacular, which staged over 250 events across the City during three weeks in September.

A group of residents and councillors also staged a complementary Cloth Fair programme to celebrate the origins of the Fair in Smithfield in 1133. You can read about the programmes and history of the Fair on a website I created in collaboration with The City Courant magazine and the group.

The Destination City team made a presentation to Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee in July, which you can read about here.

Slides in the July presentation focussed on development of attractions and places that will compete with the West End and other London locations for consumer spending.

As well as staging Bartholomew Fair, the Destination City team has launched a new website for visitors.

The future programme includes provision for better wayfinding, originally planned for this year, but dropped, and is now re-instated. Then the commitment was to “Improve wayfinding by increasing awareness that the City is not individual buildings, but a collective of fascinating places to see, spend in and work at”.

At the time I wrote that a collaborative approach to designing wayfinding could be a great way to engage residents as well as City guides.

At a June City Question Time Policy Chief Chris Hayward said, in response to a question that I raised: “if you feel we’re not consulting widely enough on Destination City, or the more engagement residents could have, we want to know how precisely we do it … we want Destination City to be owned by the residents as much as by anybody else.”

I think a key question for the November 7 event is how the residents’ panel may operate, and whether it will be sufficient to fulfil Chris Hayward’s commitment to co-ownership.

At a practical level, I think there’s scope to explore the collaborative design of wayfinding, so that it benefits residents as well as visitors. The mention in the committee report is brief:

Destination Wayfinding: The Destination team will work with the Environment department and City stakeholders to develop a wayfinding strategy. The resource, funding and timings to deliver a City-wide solution will be considered as part of the strategy development over the coming months”.

It’s not clear whether wayfinding will be designed mainly to direct visitors to leisure attractions, or will be of wider use for residents and workers.

Update1: The EC1Echo has carried an article about the event.

Update 2: The City Corporation is holding a general Question Time event on December 14 6 pm at the Old Bailey, with a festive celebration afterwards. Sign up here for either or both events.

The meeting on November 7 attracted about 100 residents, and there was a lively discussion after presentations by the Destination City team. The slides presented were much the same as those I’ve linked above. Brendan Barns said that rather convene a residents’ panel – as originally proposed – he aimed to hold a series of events. The team have promised a report back with more details, and I’ll update then.

Update 3: Residents will have chance to contribute further ideas on Destination City at a series of Citizens Forum events organised by Councillor Brendan Barns, Resident Representative on the City Envoy Network. The first event is on Monday 15 January 2024 from 6.30-8.30pm. It will be free to attend and hosted at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business at One Bartholomew Close. Sign up here.

Contact Brendan.Barns@cityoflondon.gov.uk with any other queries or ideas for Destination City.

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