Update for Farringdon Within Ward meeting

The City Ward of Farringdon Within, where I live, has a public meeting on Thursday June 8 when elected members can update local residents and workers, and we can all discuss issues of interest and concern.

I thought it might be useful to pull together some relevant stories I’ve covered in this blog.

The Ward has a very strange shape – as you can see on this map – and I have mostly focussed on the northern section, around Smithfield.

However, I hope this is of general interest to Ward residents, and our neighbours in Farringdon Without, Aldersgate and Cripplegate.

By way of diversion, here’s an EC1 Echo column on Ward names.

Bartholomew Fair – everywhere

Here’s a story that started in one part of the Ward, and is now of interest everywhere in the City.

Last year councillor Matthew Bell promoted in the EC1 Echo the idea of restaging Bartholomew Fair, which was held around Smithfield from 1133 to 1865. I added some suggestions of what might be done online.

In April this year the City Corporation announced not only that it liked the idea of the Fair – but that it would be staged as a spectacular annual set of events throughout the City in the month of September. There’s a presentation about the Fair plans here, including a map showing where activity will be concentrated.

Members at a recent meeting of Culture, Heritage and Libraries committee were keen to learn more about the Fair – and indeed about the Destination City programme of which it is the highlight. My report here.

Meanwhile Matthew has convened a group of Members and residents to explore what we might do locally, particularly in association with the Barts900 celebrations

Wayfinding – and discovering the City together

The Bartholomew Fair map includes a proposal 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”.

I’ve suggested in this post that this could provide an opportunity for all interests to collaborate in developing maps, trails and media that would benefit residents, workers and visitors. We might develop a Museum of the Streets. Maybe there’s scope for engaging with the Museum of London’s proposed £650,000 Cultural Transformation of Smithfield.

Meanwhile, here’s two maps that I helped developed in Clerkenwell.

The end of Culture Mile – sort of

Over the past five years the north west of the City has been branded Culture Mile, embracing the Barbican Centre, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Museum of London – currently moving to West Smithfield. There was a dedicated staff team and programme of activities. However, that team has been disbanded, and the lead taken by the Corporation’s Destination City programme.

The Culture Mile website has gone, but you can access an archive here. Public domain designs have been offered to a new Business Improvement District, which launched in April and is currently called the Culture Mile BID. That may change.

The new Business Improvement District

The new BID is the fifth in the City, and will have a budget of some £1.8 million from a levy on businesses. Although the main players are businesses, this BID has the largest residential population in the City, and there is a commitment to work for all interests in the proposals document that you can download here. Here’s my assessment of the programme elements likely to be of most interest to residents, with a map.

A community forum and/or Neighbourhood Forum

One of the ideas in the BID proposal is establishment of a community forum. A decision on whether to proceed with that depends on formation and meeting of the BID board. Meanwhile the Barbican and Golden Lane Estates have set up a joint nonprofit company and proposed establishment of a more powerful Neighbourhood Forum. I’ve written about both in these posts.

London Wall West

Our neighbours in the Barbican have been campaigning hard since last year against the City Corporation’s proposed London Wall West development on the site of the Museum of London. They argue strongly that the Museum buildings and Bastion House office block could be repurposed rather than demolished. The latest development, which came as a surprise, is that the Corporation has undertaken some market testing to see whether any developer is interested in doing that. I gather there is some interest and proposals may go to committee next month.

A new City Square near St Paul’s

One piece of good news for the south of the Ward is that plans are going ahead for a new City Square at the southern end of King Edward Street, in front of the Panorama St Pauls scheme.

Residential Reset – but no more Ward newsletters

In February the City Corporation announced that it was going to spend £150,000 on a Residential Reset to engage 8600 residents more effectively, and £70,000 on a City Belonging Project to support engagement with the estimated 587,000 people who work in the City.

The Reset is mostly going on meetings. What was rather buried in the committee reports was that to help pay for this printed Ward newsletters are going to be suspended for two years. You can see them online here.

Whether or not you think printed newsletters are essential these days, they have been the only funded method of communication by which elected Members can communicate directly with constituents.

I’ll be interested in what our Members think should be done.

For example, would it make sense to collaborate with other Wards in developing a website and newsletter for the north west of the City? Let’s not just leave it up to the BID to set up a forum, useful though that may be.

Congratulations to the Chief

At a personal level, I would like to add public congratulations to my wife Ann Holmes on becoming Chief Commoner. Here’s an article in City Matters. As the City says in its official description, the Chief Commoner is the only role now directly elected by the whole Court of Common Council and “the foremost representative of the elected councillors with regard to their rights and privileges – but equally, seeks to uphold the discipline and integrity of the Court”.


Councillor John Edwards has sent me a couple of additional useful items:

Public Consultation: Healthy Streets Improvements:
There is a series of proposals to redesign our streets, so they are safer and more pleasant places for people to walk, cycle and spend time. For example, making permanent the planting in Ludgate Broadway, improving the ability to cross Ludgate Hill from Pageantmaster Court to Old Bailey and to cross Queen Victoria Street from Blackfriars Station then up Blackfriars Lane. Please offer your opinion on these ideas on this website.

The London Centre
Anyone interested in plans for the City and viewing the large-scale 3D models can visit the new London Centre at 3 Aldermanbury, EC2V 7HH.
The London Centre website


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