Grosvenor Britain & Ireland (‘Grosvenor’) has responded to new research published today by committing to altering perceptions that Mayfair is only for the affluent, and that Grosvenor Square is ‘imposing’ and ‘unwelcoming.’
The research, conducted by insights firm BritainThinks for Grosvenor and based on a poll of 1,000 Londoners, and interviews with locals and visitors, indicates only 9 per cent of Londoners are very familiar with the capital’s second largest garden square. It also shows the leading impression of Mayfair is that it is only for the affluent (58%).
Grosvenor has opened a public call for ideas for Grosvenor Square’s use. The company wants the garden - 25,000 square metres of green space in the heart of the West End - to help make Mayfair more appealing to all. It has launched a campaign it calls ‘Shaping the Square’, crowd-sourcing ideas to help create London’s leading public space in the year it expects to take back its management from The Royal Parks.
When asked for one piece of advice for Grosvenor Square, Londoners called for a family hub, play areas for children or a community garden (53%); technology-free zones (52%); and world entertainment, art and food to reflect London’s diversity (51%).
Almost three-quarters of Londoners polled said they valued public places that are green (71%); half said they prefer their green spaces to have wildlife (52%); and almost half said they value public spaces most to socialise (47%). Londoners’ top three choices are that Grosvenor Square has a tranquil place to escape everyday life (44%); has greenery and wildlife (44%); and is a space in which to socialise (32%).
The research confirms the importance people attach to London’s public spaces. It shows the most popular squares are close to centres of culture and leisure. Russell Square is the best-known garden square, while Granary Square in King’s Cross is seen as the greatest public space in London for convenience, choice, food and drink.
Informed by these and the other ideas it has received, Grosvenor will run an international competition next year, overseen by a panel of high-profile creatives, designers, horticulturalists, architects and urban specialists to help shape Grosvenor Square’s future.
Will Bax, Executive Director, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, said: “We have a vision to transform our London estate to be more open and accessible, and Grosvenor Square’s evolution underlines our commitment. Mayfair is an important district for the West End and an asset to London, but we think it could do more for the capital.
“The polling shows that Grosvenor Square has a low profile. We agree that a more welcoming space would better reflect London’s character. We want the square to be a haven where locals and visitors can enjoy the best of the city, whilst helping make Mayfair more appealing.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "I am determined to make London one of the greenest cities on earth so I am delighted that the public have responded so warmly and with such imagination to this exciting vision.
“Situated in the heart of our bustling city, it is exciting to think how Grosvenor Square could become a new centre for Londoners to rest, relax and enjoy new experiences.
“London is home to outstanding green spaces that I want to protect, invest in and improve as we aim to become the world’s first national park city. I am pleased to support Grosvenor's exciting plans as we strive to make that vision a reality.”
A short film summarising the polling results and public views can be found here.
Grosvenor’s report - ‘What’s in your Square’ - can be found here.
Detailed findings of the polling undertaken by BritainThinks can be found here.
The ‘Shaping the Square’ website can be viewed here.
For more information contact:
Grosvenor Britain & Ireland
+44 (0)20 7312 6215
Notes to Editors:
Grosvenor Square Images
High resolution photos of Grosvenor Square and “Shaping the Square” campaign collateral are available on request.
About Grosvenor Square
Grosvenor Square was first developed during 1725-1731 and caused a sensation in the capital with its unprecedented size, the first of its kind. A piece of classically-inspired garden in the city, it has evolved to the changing needs of Londoners.
In addition to the US Embassy, the buildings around the Square mainly comprise neo-Georgian mansion blocks, apartments and hotels.
A statue to Franklin D Roosevelt, a memorial to the Eagle Squadron and the 9/11 memorial garden are clues to the Square’s long-standing connection to the United States.
John Adams, first American Minister to Great Britain, lived at No. 9 Grosvenor Square from May 1785 to March 1788, before becoming Second President of the United States.
Grosvenor Square has housed the US embassy since 1938, and 20 Grosvenor Square was the site of General Dwight D Eisenhower’s headquarters during the Second World War.
The demolition of the private town houses around the Square that began in the 1920s, and the major redevelopment that accelerated after the Second World War, led to the new, bigger apartment blocks and hotels we see around the Square today, which were mostly completed by the mid-1960s.
The American Embassy building on the Square was designed by Finnish American modernist architect Eero Saarinen and opened in 1961. The Embassy is moving to Battersea this year, and developers Qatari Diar will convert the building into a hotel and shops. Grosvenor sees this opportunity to make the space more open and accessible to the public.
The central garden square, which was originally reserved for the use of the occupants of the surrounding houses, is today a public park. The entire Square is 37,000m2, larger than Trafalgar Square and the second-largest square in London after Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
Note on methodology
BritainThinks conducted a representative survey of 1,000 Londoners aged 18+ online between 3-7 August 2017, and two focus groups with a total of 12 Londoners and four visitors to London.
About Grosvenor Britain & Ireland
Grosvenor Britain & Ireland creates and manages high quality neighbourhoods that are great places to live, work and visit.
Our diverse property development, management and investment portfolio includes Grosvenor’s London estate of Mayfair and Belgravia, where we manage a £1bn rolling investment programme. Our other developments are elsewhere in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Southampton. As at 31 December 2016, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland had £5.1bn of assets under management.
We are part of Grosvenor Group, one of the world's largest privately-owned property businesses, which is active in more than 60 cities around the world.