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Feedback on the detailed designs

August 2021

Thanks to all the residents, businesses and visitors who took part in the various events and activities during July. We really enjoyed speaking to so many of you about the detailed designs and listening to your helpful feedback.

3016 people took part in the various activities underway during July. These included design workshops, meet the team drop-ins in the square, a day festival hosted by the Mayfair Youth Forum and the People’s Petal Choice competition in partnership with the Evening Standard.

We received hundreds of comments through the online survey and feedback forms so thanks to everyone that took the time to share your views. These have been analysed and reviewed with Tonkin Liu to help them finalise the plans before we submit a planning application to Westminster City Council later this year.

A detailed feedback report will be published as part of the planning application but in the meantime, we have summarised the key findings from July.

Photo by Tom Graham

Overall feedback 

We were pleased that 88% of people who gave feedback liked the detailed designs. The majority of you were supportive of the approach to engagement and felt that the latest designs reflected the Community Priorities you told us were most important.

Lots of people were particularly pleased to see more wildflowers and native species introduced. The waterfall canopies and wetland pond were also popular, due to the sense of calm and respite these would help create.

“I miss greenery whilst living in the city - so the more flowers and space to enjoy these colours, and engage my senses will really help my wellbeing”

Of the 6% of people who said they did not like the detailed designs (6% said they had ‘no view’), the primary concerns were around safety, security, and the risk of anti-social behaviour. 

“The square needs to be safe and enjoyable for those not able to visit during daylight...We need something to inspire us throughout the darker winter months.”

We also received feedback about the proposed seating which some people felt might be uncomfortable, particularly for older people. We are reviewing the range of seating options which can be developed further with the community. 

Photo by Tom Graham

Specific feedback

In the July exhibition we explored the designs using several themes, which were identified as the aspects people wanted to know more about. We have summarised the feedback received under the same eight headings.

1. Heritage

77% of people felt that the proposals complimented Grosvenor Square’s heritage, particularly due to the retained statues and memorials. Most people felt we’d struck a good balance between the old and the new, but some thought that we could do more to make specific elements such as the lighting or signage more traditional. 

“I'm actually less interested in the American heritage and more interested in the Georgian heritage. There's clearly been an effort to reconcile and retain both, which is great.”

2. Arrival

People told us that the entrances at each corner of the Square would work well to mark the transition from the city into nature, with 71% or respondents supportive of the designs for them. There were some concerns about the seasonal nature of the wisteria shown on the floating pergolas, and some people suggested that we include more planting overall. 

“These are welcoming and soften what is currently quite an austere aesthetic”

“Mix the wisteria with evergreen jasmine for different seasons.”

3. Shaded Garden

The detailed design for the Shaded Garden around the perimeter of the Square was supported by 85% of people. Many of you liked the walking routes through the wild planting and the varied spaces that would be created through the social ovals. 

Some respondents raised concerns about anti-social behaviour that these more secluded areas might create and wanted to see more detail on the proposed management approach to ensure it feels safe. 

“Very much like the social aspect of the design and encouraging people to stay in the space for longer.”

4. Open Garden

77% told us that they liked the designs for the central open garden space, including support for the introduction of wildflowers and the creation of a gentle mound. A few people had concerns about the proposed North – South link across the grass (between the Roosevelt and Eagle Squadron memorials) and wanted to know how these would be maintained.

“Love that this is being kept big rather than divided into small sections - as this big feel is more open and welcoming.”

5. Story of Water

New and renovated water features was one of the most popular topics of discussion, with 82% of people in support of them. People felt these features would create a relaxing atmosphere whilst providing space for wildlife and biodiversity. Ensuring these features were well maintained was the primary concern expressed by respondents. 

“Anything that helps reduce stormwater runoff, create habitat and honor natural forces within the park is worth creating.”

6. Planting and Trees

There was significant support for the approach to planting and trees with 85% stating they liked it. People were very positive about the range of species, seasonal planting, and new habitats that would be created. Lots of you were also supportive of the plan to introduce new tree species which come in different colours and sizes. 

Some people we spoke to were initially concerned by the removal of some trees but were reassured when it was explained that we are proposing to retain the majority of trees and planting at least 50 new ones. 

“Really love that this is biodiverse with seasonal interest throughout the year, full of colours, and designed with encouraging wildlife.”

As part of the engagement on the detailed designs, we ran a People’s Petal Choice competition with the Evening Standard to invite people to choose the wildflowers that would be prioritised in the redesign. More than 2,500 people took part in the campaign with the following flowers winning the vote:

  • Primroses were selected over Cow Parsley
  • Bluebells were more popular than Daisies 
  • Honeysuckles were chosen over Blackberries 

7. Structures & Furniture 

There was more mixed feedback on the introduction of two small buildings in the Square (62% supported). Many people were pleased to see public toilets still being proposed, as these are seen as much needed in the area. However some people were concerned that food and drink facilities might increase the amount of litter in the Square. Some also thought that the buildings could better reflect natural elements, as achieved by the green roof. 

“Any necessary buildings should not be intrusive and blend in with nature. I would go for rustic designs like log cabins.”

75% were supportive of the proposed seating. We heard lots of valuable feedback about the potential lack of places to sit on the grass in the shade or sit on benches in the sun, which we’ll be taking into consideration as we finalise the designs. Some people were worried that the range of seating options and materials proposed would not be comfortable.

“I love to sit in the deckchairs that are here (and sometimes have a lovely nap!). I worry with the kind of seating proposed that it is not comfortable enough to lounge/recline.”

8. Play & Education 

People continue to be supportive of the use of natural play materials and features within the Square, with 81% saying they liked this approach. Some of you wanted to see more detail or examples of how this might work in practice. 

Lots of people also felt that a space to educate children who live in the city about the environment was really important. Some questioned whether the education space would be well used by local people.

“This is a great idea - we need to do this more, so children grow up respecting the environment and wanting to protect it better than we have done.”

Photo by Tom Graham

What happens next

We are working with Tonkin Liu to finalise the designs using this feedback ahead of submitting a planning application later this year. 

We will share details of this with you in the next few months as well as hosting another exhibition. Here you will be able to see the final designs in detail and in particular understand how they have responded to your feedback. This will also include information about how to take part in the statutory consultation that Westminster City Council will run as part of the planning process. 

Thank you again for everyone that took part in the engagement on the detailed designs. We look forward to continuing the conversation with you. For now, please stay in touch by joining the mailing list or following us on social media via the links below.

Photo by Tom Graham