What residents want from Destination City – and what they can offer

Councillor Brendan Barns has reported back from the first Citizens Forum event with some fascinating insights from the residents who attended.

Brendan organised the informal event as the Resident Representative on the City Envoy Network with a remit “to represent the collective views of residents on the Destination City agenda”. Here’s background on the programme.

In pursuit of that Brendan asked about favourite locations, improvements to the Square Mile and sources of information. Here’s the results that Brendan emailed back to us, in order.

While Barbican is the favourite, Postman’s Park ranked high among the attractions.

What are your 3 favourite locations in the City?

  • Barbican
  • Postman’s Park
  • Guildhall
  • Riverside Walk along the North Bank
  • Leadenhall Market
  • St Bartholomew the Great
  • St Dunstan’s in the East
  • St Paul’s Cathedral/Churchyard
  • Bow Lane
  • St Stephen’s Walbrook

What one thing could we do to improve the City of London as a location?

  • Street cleaning/more bins
  • Better public toilets
  • Signage
  • Improve Cheapside (One New Change)
  • Improve cyclist behaviour
  • Stop skateboarders
  • Allotments
  • More community space
  • Develop a cultural strategy
  • Listen to residents more

What sources do you use to find out about things going on in the square mile?

  • Barbican Estate comms
  • CoL residents newsletter
  • Ian Visits
  • X (Twitter)
  • Barbican Centre emails/website
  • CoL website
  • Common Councillor emails
  • Guildhall Art Gallery
  • Resident block google group emails
  • City Matters

The first event was something of an experiment, with not-a-lot-to-say about Destination City, and some push-back from residents on general City Corporation issues.

However, the above answers – even from an informal survey – show that residents can offer useful insights about priorities and assets. These could be linked to the workshop results from the City Plan 2040. The headlines from that were:

  • The need to celebrate the City’s hidden gems;
  • Encouraging an active street culture, with public spaces that have markets, spill-out space, events and activities;
  • Make more of the north bank of the Thames;
  • Ensure we have the right facilities and complementary uses – public toilets, open spaces, food and drink – to complement cultural and leisure offers;
  • Clear signs and wayfinding, and inclusive approaches to public welcome, particularly for spaces accessed through buildings such as roof terraces.

Brendan has pulled off something of a coup with the second forum on February 19, when he says there will be a report of conclusions from the review of Destination City that is currently being undertaken by Paul Martin. Sign up here.

Update: the review report is delayed, so there is unlikely to be significant news at the forum.

The interim findings indicated that Destination City should support “the future development of a liveable, lively and connected City in a uniquely historic, cultural and characterful setting”.

I’ve been rather sceptical whether Brendan’s informal get-togethers can be an effective channel for resident views and influence.

However the advantage in Brendan’s somewhat unofficial approach is that it opens opportunities for residents to get together – perhaps with other councillors – and start their own initiatives.

Perhaps we have the start of a Residents Manifesto and Guide for Destination City. The next forum may spark some interest in that – or other ways in which we can explore what makes for a liveable, workable, visitable City.

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