Brexit was a blow to London’s arts and hospitality sectors – sectors that relied on freedom of movement. And then, in 2020, the Covid lockdown descended, emptied London’s streets, darkened its theaters and closed its shops and attractions.
A happy paradox is that art and leisure could be the main drivers of the post-Covid renaissance in London. Tremendous changes await London as a workplace, threatening the age of commuting and the explosion of agile working.
While workers on average prefer human contact, 88% of respondents in a recent survey by the Universities of Cardiff and Southampton said they wanted to work from home at least part of the time. Increasingly, London could become a place to play rather than a place to work.
The past year has also had a major negative impact on the hospitality industry, accelerating the patterns already emerging in the sector – the rapid growth of takeaways and home deliveries, the increasing appeal of local food, and the “Americanization” of meal times. As London’s boroughs and suburbs increasingly become living / working areas, a “delivery concept” will soon become a fundamental part of almost all F&B offerings.
In contrast, central London should expect a boom – not just a spike – in all-day casual dining, as the pandemic has brought the value and desirability of socializing and destination dining to the fore. There may not be the same lunchtime demand in the office, but the glamor of London as a travel destination hasn’t let up, especially with the clean air policies and goals set by the Mayor.
An exciting new London landscape awaits you, one of creativity, attractiveness and desirability, with the arts in the foreground and leisure, tourism and entertainment driving the new London economy.
Julien Allen is a real estate partner at Trowers & Hamlins