Transforming Mayfair and Belgravia: Grosvenor’s grand plans for Prime Central London

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland published a 20-year vision to "transform" its London estate

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland has published a 20 year vision to “transform its London estate and tackle the pressures facing the capital”, starting by significantly amping up digital connectivity in Mayfair and Belgravia and taking back the management of Grosvenor Square from the Royal Parks.

A realm of big ambitions aim to create a more inclusive enclave in Prime Central London “with better streets, greener spaces and more active and enterprising places that appeal to the many, not just to the few.”

In keeping with such (surprisingly poetic) ideals, the firm wants more stakeholders to get involved: it’s calling for new partnerships between public and private sectors, and with those who live and work on the estate, to bring about change.

Grosvenor’s kicking off the vision right away with two projects:

  • Quickly shifting its core area from being in the worst 5% of the country for digital connections, into the top 5%. Grosvenor has committed to introducing new superfast and ultrafast broadband connections across almost 75% of the estate, in one of the London’s largest “single estate” broadband upgrades, and piloting a free public wifi service – which could cover half a square mile in the next three years. New 4G mobile connections will also be brought in “to deliver a step change improvement in coverage”. Openreach, Ventura Next, WiFi SPARK and the planning authorities are all involved in this project alongside Grosvenor.
  • Taking back control of Grosvenor Square: Grosvenor will be given back responsibility for managing Grosvenor Square from Royal Parks, in partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It’s pledged to “invest in the square alongside surrounding businesses”, and, later this year, will open a public call for ideas to make this green space – larger than Trafalgar Square – “a great garden square for Londoners” fit for the 21st century.

There are four “guiding principles” behind the vision; here’s how Grosvenor’s boss Craig McWilliams describes them:

  • We manage Mayfair and Belgravia as places where people choose to live, to locate their businesses or to visit, focusing on the place as much as on individual buildings.
  • We seek to create places that host strong communities and that can continue to adapt to new circumstances and demands.
  • We want the estate and its neighbourhoods to be well connected, both physically and digitally, so that their success is strengthened by greater integration with a successful London.
  • We can only deliver our vision through deeper collaboration with a wide range of people and organisations.

Craig McWilliam, Chief Executive, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland: “For centuries this great London estate has adapted to changes in the city around it. The big challenges facing London today require that the estate responds. We want Mayfair and Belgravia to be more flexible, more open and more appealing to all. They need to work harder for London if they’re to flourish.

“We can plan for the long-term with this 20 year vision for our London estate, but there is little here we can deliver alone. So this is our call for the partners we need to secure these great districts at the heart of a successful, growing city.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan: “Grosvenor’s London estate is in the heart of our city and includes some of the most historic and popular areas. The estate’s plans demonstrate how developers can provide high-quality public space in a rapidly growing city. I welcome the steps being taken to upgrade the estate and ensure it is fit for future generations of Londoners and visitors.”

Cllr Nickie Aiken, Leader of Westminster City Council: “The unique mix of global reach, national significance and local character defines the City of Westminster as a very special place. We welcome Grosvenor’s vision to support these distinctive neighbourhoods. If they continue to flourish in the heart of the capital, they will help ensure Westminster remains successful, confident and inclusive, where residents, businesses and partners all feel they have a shared stake in its future.”

Clive Selley, Chief Executive, Openreach: “The delivery of this exciting project involves vision, collaboration and commitment from stakeholders who share a common objective to realise Grosvenor’s aspiration to be a digital champion. Our next generation broadband network will provide a future-proof foundation to support Grosvenor’s economic, social and cultural aims.

“Thousands of homes and businesses in the area will have access to our superfast FTTC and ultrafast FTTP networks – which is the largest of its kind in the UK, and part of our continuing drive to make faster internet access as widely available as possible.”

Grosvenor’s seven point 20-year vision for Mayfair & Belgravia

  • 1. Active neighbourhoods

Mayfair and Belgravia are diverse, dynamic and adaptable neighbourhoods. They are interesting places to live in and explore, with a variety of activities taking place every day and throughout the seasons. Neighbourhoods retain their own diverse local characteristics. People of all ages, interests and incomes regularly enjoy the estate’s vibrant street life and cultural offer as well as its tranquil corners, bene tting from a wide range of amenities.

Existing buildings and spaces are used intensively but sensitively. Careful adaptation has created imaginative additional uses. Greater density in certain areas, particularly around transport hubs, meets the demands of a growing city.

New buildings are flexibly designed and therefore built to last. These exible structures adapt to meet the demands of new and innovative forms of commercial, social and cultural activity. The mix of uses and people, supported by high-quality infrastructure, helps to secure Mayfair and Belgravia’s adaptability and resilience through the 21st century and beyond.

  • 2. Integrated districts

Mayfair and Belgravia are integrated and productive parts of a global city, attracting and hosting jobs, investment and interest. They draw people in from the wider West End and London. Physically, they are easy to access. They benefit from clear signage that encourages walking and have attractive public spaces that are welcoming to all, including those with greater accessibility needs. Activity links the edges of Mayfair and Belgravia to their hearts and encourages people to explore.

The estate’s streets host places to visit, eat, drink, shop and relax, which complement those found in surrounding areas. These places create compelling connections between the estate, its neighbours and the wider West End so that the estate is open and outward-facing.

People enter frequently and easily from surrounding places including Knightsbridge, Victoria, Hyde Park and Oxford Street. Some people are drawn to the estate’s own outstanding attractions, while others enjoy the bene t of convenient and pleasant routes providing links to other destinations.

  • 3. Connected communities

The distinctive identities of Mayfair and Belgravia are recognised and valued by their residents, workers and visitors. Relationships between individuals, businesses and local institutions are enhanced by the physical and personal connections forged on the estate.

Those connections are made locally through amenities including working hubs and leisure, community, retail and educational facilities. Distinctive cultural activities and events celebrate the estate’s communities, history and character and are popular with both locals and visitors.

Connections are also made through world-class digital infrastructure. This technology pervades spaces and buildings, seamlessly facilitating greater professional and social interaction.

  • 4. Better streets

Mayfair and Belgravia have a network of connections that prioritises pedestrians and cyclists. The estate is easy, safe and pleasurable to travel across and explore, and arriving via the major roads at its edges is simple. Striking townscape vistas are emphasised at street level, aiding intuitive navigation.

Vehicles retain access to the estate, but tra c levels passing through it have been substantially reduced, improving the experience for cyclists and pedestrians and keeping businesses serviced. The Elizabeth line and other investments in public transport have significantly improved connections to and from the estate.

Most roads put the needs of pedestrians and cyclists over motorised traffic, while others are traffic-free on a permanent or temporary basis. Electric and autonomous vehicles are provided for, and commercial deliveries and waste collection have been consolidated.

  • 5. Greener spaces

Mayfair and Belgravia are two of the greenest neighbourhoods in central London. They are characterised by high-quality open spaces, thriving trees, greater planting and an environment that is conducive to health and well-being. The natural environment is cherished by residents and visitors, and complements its exceptional buildings. Large green spaces are open for public use, providing more amenity and a focal point for neighbourhood activity.

Environmental sustainability is core to decisions made around the estate. Air quality has improved due to London-wide and local initiatives to reduce pollution and cut traffic. The estate contains a network of green infrastructure, including pocket parks and green walls and roofs, which use the natural environment to enrich local biodiversity. It is a beacon of environmental excellence.

  • 6. Enterprising places

Workspaces in Mayfair and Belgravia strengthen enterprise by responding to the changing needs and aspirations of businesses, workers and residents. Office clusters range from the highest quality traditional office spaces to more exible space on a ordable tenures. The estate attracts both young and established organisations, creating a complementary community that allows businesses to thrive with co-working, collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

The estate is at the forefront of retailing trends, providing the street life and digital conditions for new forms of retail to succeed alongside the traditional. The estate is a global centre for art and culture and also hosts leading creative productions, with a flourishing network of designers and makers. Clusters of cultural initiatives, retailers and designers benefit from opportunities to connect and collaborate.

7. Architectural excellence

Mayfair and Belgravia are a source of world-class architectural interest and beauty. Their built character continues to be a source of pleasure, drawing visitors from across the globe. The estate’s beautiful buildings, townscapes and public spaces are valued, celebrated and shared.

New buildings have added to an exceptional cultural legacy and older buildings have adapted to new uses where necessary.

Echoing the original approach taken to developing the estate in the 18th and 19th centuries, all buildings, streets and spaces feature the highest quality design, materials and maintenance, reflecting a long-term commitment to the estate.