January 8, 2022, 09:45
London’s troubled Marble Arch Mound, dubbed the capital’s “worst tourist attraction”, is set to close this weekend after poor reception.
The 25-meter-high man-made mound, which lies near Marble Arch, has been roundly criticized by visitors who were dissatisfied with its appearance and who had to pay a fee to look at a partially obscured view of the capital.
The attraction opened last July in conjunction with the easing of Covid restrictions, with organizers hoping it would bring people back to central London.
The hill initially cost between £4.50 and £8 to climb, but was quickly made free after complaints from visitors.
On Sunday – barely six months after opening – the Mound will welcome its last visitors and will close for good.
The tourist attraction was commissioned by Westminster City Council with a budget of £3.3 million, but once completed it would have cost almost double the £6 million.
Council leader Rachael Robathan announced in August that her deputy Melvyn Caplan had resigned with immediate effect following the “totally unacceptable” rise in costs.
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The day after the hill opened to the public on July 26, refunds were offered after what the authority called “teething problems,” with visitors complaining that it was still a construction site.
One called it “the worst thing I’ve ever done in London”, while others made derisive comments, including comparing it to an abandoned theme park.
Designed by Dutch architecture firm MVRDV, The Mound is designed to provide views of Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone in the capital.
Despite the poor reception, the hill has had some 250,000 visitors and has drawn large crowds.
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A council spokesman said: “The Mound has done what it was built to do: draw crowds and support recovery in the West End.
“Central London’s economy has suffered more than any other area during the pandemic. With the reduction in the number of visitors and the almost total loss of foreign tourists, many companies have fallen into oblivion.
“We are delighted that nearly 250,000 visitors have come to Westminster to see The Mound and the amazing indoor light exhibition. Those visitors have started spending money in West End shops, bars and restaurants, helping local businesses get back on their feet .”
The mound will have to be demolished, a process that could take up to four months, with the materials – including trees and plants – reused.
The council has apologized after an internal review of the project, saying it “needs to learn the lessons of the Mound project”.
The review concluded that a series of errors of judgment, coupled with a “lack of adequate oversight” led to the failure.
It also found that “robust” processes were “bypassed — driven by a desire to open the mound as quickly as possible” — a failure the council admitted was “unacceptable.”