// £6 million Marble Arch Mound to close after just six disappointing months
// Many visitors described the Marble Arch Mound as a “waste of money.”
Just six months after opening, London’s newest tourist attraction has closed its doors after mass criticism.
The infamous Marble Arch Mound, which cost a reported £6 million and overseen by Westminster Council, finally closed after it soon hit the headlines for the wrong reasons facing ridicule and criticism from both visitors and businesses.
Initially introduced as a temporary additional West End attraction to draw in much-needed visitors to the capital after lockdown restrictions were lifted in the spring, the Mound opened on July 26 between Hyde Park and Oxford Street.
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Ahead of its impending closure, tickets to the attraction were being sold for free.
The Mound had promised sweeping greenery, unique views of the city and a light exhibition inside. It was conceived by Westminster Council as part of a “smarter, greener” future for the borough.
But when it opened, visitors were shocked to discover that elements of the attraction were clearly unfinished. Scaffolding used in the development of the structure was still visible and the lush greenery that had been promised was sorely lacking, as photos on social media showed.
The views at the top of the Mound, just 130 steps up, were described as underwhelming and less than had been expected.
When The Mound opened, staff admitted the attraction wasn’t fully finished as it contrasted sharply to the project’s artist’s impressions.
Following the launch, WCC said changes would be made, adding at the time: “We’re sorry for the delay and look forward to welcoming visitors when they’re ready to enjoy all The Mound has to offer”.
Plans for customers to be charged between £4.50 and £8 to scale the hill were also scrapped.
“The execution was flawed from start to finish,” an insider at Westminster Council told the Guardian newspaper.
“The idea of getting people back to the West End is a good one, but this was a lesson in how not to do project management – they overpromised and underdelivered.”
In a statement ahead of the Mound’s closure, the council defended the project.
“The Mound has done what it was built to do – drawn crowds and supported the recovery in the West End,” a spokesperson said.
“Central London’s economy has suffered more than any other area during the pandemic. With footfall slashed and near-total loss of overseas tourists, many businesses have faced oblivion.”
The spokesperson added: “We’re really pleased that nearly 250,000 visitors have come to Westminster to see The Mound and the terrific light exhibition inside. Those visitors have gone on to spend money in shops, bars and restaurants across the West End – helping local businesses to get back on their feet.”
The Mound’s deconstruction will take up to four months and the trees and plants will be reused.