Marble Arch Mound: Highly criticised 'slag heap' to close this weekend

8 January 2022, 09:45

The Marble Arch Mound has been heavily criticised and was dubbed the city&squot;s "worst tourist attraction".
The Marble Arch Mound has been heavily criticised and was dubbed the city's "worst tourist attraction". Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

London's troubled Marble Arch Mound, dubbed the capital's "worst tourist attraction", is set to close this weekend following a poor reception.

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The 25m high man-made mound, which sits near Marble Arch, was roundly criticised by visitors unhappy at its appearance and being charged a fee to look at a partially obscured view over the capital.

The attraction opened last July in conjunction with the easing of Covid restrictions, with organisers 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 following complaints from visitors.

On Sunday - just six months after it opened - 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 complete it had cost almost double that at £6 million.

Council leader Rachael Robathan announced in August her deputy Melvyn Caplan had resigned with immediate effect after the "totally unacceptable" rise in costs.

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Refunds were offered the day after the Mound opened to the public on July 26 following what the authority called "teething problems", with visitors complaining it was still a building site.

One branded it "the worst thing I've ever done in London" while others made mocking remarks, including comparing it to an abandoned theme park.

The Mound, planned by Dutch architect company MVRDV, was designed to give views of the capital's Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Mayfair, and Marylebone.

Despite the poor reception, the hill has had around 250,000 visitors and has drawn crowds.

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A council spokesperson said: "The Mound has done what it was built to do - drawn crowds and supported the recovery in the West End.

"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.

"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 is due to be deconstructed, a process which could take up to four months, with the materials - including trees and plants - reused.

The council has apologised following an internal review into the project, and said it "must learn the lessons of the Mound project".

The review concluded a series of errors in judgement, coupled with a "lack of sufficient oversight" led to the failure.

It also found "robust" processes were "circumvented - driven by the desire to open the Mound as soon as possible" - a failure which the council admitted was "unacceptable."