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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Marble Arch Mound: Much-mocked tourist attraction to close


A tourist attraction that opened incomplete, over budget and led to resignations is to close permanently.

The Marble Arch Mound, which was supposed to draw people back into the city centre, charged up to £8 per visit when it first opened in July.

The £6 million artificial hill, however, was forced to close temporarily after plants and grass began to die on the structure, which was surrounded by scaffolding.

The contentious creation will be closed on Sunday.


It was branded a “monstrosity” and a “disgrace” on social media while a New York Times headline read: “Londoners Were Promised a Hill With a View. They Got a Pile of Scaffolding.”

Melvyn Caplan, the deputy leader of Westminster Council who was in charge of the project, resigned after total costs nearly tripled from an initial estimate of £2 million.

As plants dislodged and cascaded down the slopes, the mound was mocked on social media and in the press, while its young trees struggled in the summer heat.

July ticketholders paid between £4.50 and £8 for the artificial viewing platform, which dropped its entry fee after reopening in August.

The Tory-led council review to “understand what went wrong and ensure it never happens again” called the scheme’s spiralling costs “devastating” and “unavoidable.”

Senior council officers hid details and lied about how much money the mound would make and there was a basic lack of project management, the report found.

Westminster Council admitted the mound had opened too early

Labour councillors called the project a “disaster from beginning to end.”

“The Conservative councillors responsible for the Marble Arch Mound should hang their heads in shame and apologise to the people of Westminster for wasting so much public money,” one of them, Paul Dimoldenberg, said.

According to organisers, the man-made mound increased foot traffic to the West End and assisted the area in recovering from the financial damage caused by the pandemic.

“The Mound has done what it was built to do – drawn crowds and supported the recovery in this part of London,” a council spokesperson said.

“We’re overjoyed that over 242,000 people have come to see the Mound and the fantastic light exhibition inside.”

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