New Year is often a time for reflecting on the year gone by and looking forward to the year ahead. While many of us I’m sure are glad to be putting 2021 behind us, across business sectors I imagine 2022 is also being viewed with some trepidation. Unfortunately, we are starting another new year with the pandemic still with us, keeping workers from their desks and visitors from our attractions for the time being. For some sectors hit especially hard by the restrictions introduced in early December, and an incredibly quiet Christmas and New Year period, the future must look bleak right now, but I firmly believe that London’s best days lie ahead.
There are some positive signs of green shoots in the recovery. Colliers estimates that central London office take-up in 2021 was around 9.5 million square feet, up 55.7% on 2020. Just in the last few days, the Government and NHS leaders appear increasingly confident that the Omicron wave will not overwhelm services, and a ‘Living with COVID’ strategy is promised in March by the Prime Minister, providing a signal of hope for businesses struggling with the ongoing restrictions. This all points to the potential for a strong bounce back in the economy and the underlying strength of London.
Businesses will drive the recovery once again, and in a bid to attract the best talent, the lion’s share of the returning visitor economy and future investment, London needs to be the best version of itself. I believe we stand on the brink of a new and exciting era for the capital, where the need to be ‘best in class’ drives innovation and creativity, as well as attracting investment.
Looking across South Westminster I am confident that our business communities stand ready to seize the growth opportunities that I’m sure are ahead. 2022, with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee providing a great focal point, could be the year we learn to live with COVID and get our economy back on track. We have much to be hopeful about, including the continuing momentum being seen on the Strand / Aldwych transformation scheme and our exciting plans for Future Victoria progressing. Partnership sits at the heart of these projects, and it will be the partnership that helps us provide the best welcome back to central London when the time is right – from street cleaning and our Ambassadors to cultural events and public realm enhancements. Let’s continue to work together to not only get the recovery going again but to help London be the best it can be. In the coming weeks, as we hopefully emerge from this crippling pandemic, let’s be creative, collaborative and most importantly, ambitious about what we can achieve together.