If the highs of 2012 feel a long time ago, think back to 2005/ 2006 when London and the rest of the UK felt an altogether more prosperous place. Last year – and for the previous six – London was building itself up to host the biggest show on earth as the Olympics rolled into town. Now the games are over and we still have a financial hangover, although some say green shoots are appearing. What’s next for the capital?
2012 will go down in history as a huge year for London. The world’s greatest athletes, as well as millions of tourists as well as column inches made sure the capital was on the top of everyone’s list for a must-visit. The boost was much needed. Since the recession began and hit the City hard a little positive thinking and a party atmosphere was a good tonic. There are many legacies for London post-Olympics, but it is in the look and feel of the city where there will be the biggest change.
The £15bn regeneration of east London made the area of the city fit for visitors and gave it the wow factor but it is the next step that will have the biggest impact on residents. Affordable housing will boost the population. The former Olympic Park, due to be renamed as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will be home to thousands of events every year including sport and entertainment. That’s just the beginning. There are also plans for more restaurants, shops, a casino and leisure accommodation.
Inevitably thanks to the investment in infrastructure it’s an easy part of the city to get to. Underground and on the Overhead railway it’s only seven minutes from central London. That puts the area firmly on the attractions list for the city making it easier for tourists, visitors, business owners and entrepreneurs to put it on their list of places they can visit and do business.
The impact on the bottom line of being “in the loop” can be easily illustrated by Westfield shopping centre. As thousands of shoppers and visitors flooded the mall during 2012 its tills rang gleefully. The shopping centres, known as the Westfield “twins” at Shepherd’s Bush and the East End, generated nearly £2bn in sales. The growth of visitors to the east of the city hit the west end as there was reduced footfall yet an increase in Chinese and Middle Eastern tourists helped keep shopping levels up to 2011 figures.
London has illustrated it has “an extraordinary resilience to the downturn” compared to other retail sites around Britain”, according to one commentator.
It isn’t just in the retail sector. Property experts Douglas & Gordon sent out their predictions for 2013 last month. They claim 2013 will be the best year to buy London property and that, despite there being little growth in the capital this year, there will be an 8% rise in property with interest from overseas.
The positive predictions and results suggest that instead of being a one off, one of the principle legacies from 2012 will be a renewed optimism. This will undoubtedly have a knock on effect to any business operating in the capital, especially one like Clarendon serviced apartments which caters to both the business and relation market as well as the domestic and foreign visitor. With optimism comes an enthusiasm to come and visit, to continue to see the capital as the best place to do business. Instead of 2013 marking an end to confidence in the city, it appears it is just the start.