St James’s is a unique part of London. Nestled amongst the West End and formerly a Royal Estate, it epitomises the juxtaposition of old and new, which sets London apart from anywhere else. As such, St James’s is a magnet for high-quality national and international residents, visitors, occupiers and investors and plays a critical role in London’s global success.
As the Chief Executive of Heart of London Business Alliance, I know the area well. Since 2012, we have been operational in Jermyn Street and the north part of St James’s. We work closely with members to tailor our services to this distinct area, aiming to respect and cherish the heritage.
We aim to protect and promote the commercial and cultural well-being of the iconic areas we represent, including Piccadilly, St James’s, Haymarket, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and St Martin’s and following requests from businesses and the wider community this year, I will be leading the Business Improvement District’s (BID) proposed expansion further south into St James’s.
While the area boasts remarkable strengths, it also faces its own unique challenges. The district’s reliance solely on statutory services falls short of realising its full potential whilst preserving and enhancing its unique and distinctive character, environment and proposition.
The impact of climate change and air quality affects everyone, and the area of St James’s is no exception. The growing conflict between the conservation of buildings, energy efficiency and the suitability of business space poses specific concerns for the area, particularly the added issues of the increasing costs of operating a business in the district, the challenge that businesses are facing in connecting to the power grid and the growing demand on an already stretched power infrastructure.
Much of the district’s infrastructure and streetscape has long exceeded its lifecycle. It needs better navigation, new cycle routes and secure cycle parking. It suffers from anti‑social behaviour, crime, excessive waste, and clutter on the street.
Most concerning, however, is the risk of St James’s falling behind its neighbouring areas in terms of investment. Almost 20 Business Improvement Districts across Westminster generate ring-fenced investments and deliver tangible improvements for their members.
In November 2023, the St James’s business community will be able to join Heart of London Business Alliance. This presents a unique chance to come together to secure over £17 million of direct investment, paving the way for an ambitious, cohesive plan that addresses the previously mentioned, enhances prosperity, and fosters a deep sense of community pride.
Whilst each district will have its own budget accountability, they will contribute to the overall improvement plan for the broader Heart of London area. This allows for economies of scale, joint procurement, more significant influence and better results for all. Over a five‑year term, the combined investment will rise from £25 million to £42 million, including the St James’s district, a testament to our determination to effect transformative change.
Our focus will be to regenerate the area and attract investment; to deliver exceptional cultural experiences; to create a sustainable environment that is clean, safe, and well‑managed; to empower members and protect their interests; and to provide a one‑stop‑shop of support and services.
It will allow St James’s to meet its full potential whilst preserving what makes it a unique area of London.