Marble Arch Mound: £2m 'slag heap' closed to visitors days after it opened

29 July 2021, 09:34 | Updated: 29 July 2021, 10:20

Disappointing: The Mound at Marble Arch has closed
Disappointing: The Mound at Marble Arch has closed. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The £2m Marble Arch Mound attraction, designed to attract people back to central London, has been shut after just two days after organisers admitted it is 'not ready'.

The large hill near Marble Arch was roundly criticised by visitors unhappy at its appearance and being charged a fee to climb a flight of stairs to look at a partially obscured view over the capital.

It was closed yesterday to everyone except those who had already booked tickets online in advance, which cost between £4.50 and £8.

Westminster Council last night confirmed the structure has been closed.

The Mound when it was under construction in June
The Mound when it was under construction in June. Picture: Alamy

A council spokesman said: "It is clear that it is not ready. People who have paid should have the right to go up. But ultimately we know it's not ready. We acknowledge that. That's why we are not letting people up."

The scheme received multiple complaints and was likened to the hill from children's TV programme the Teletubbies.

A pigeon walks in front of the mound
A pigeon walks in front of the mound. Picture: Alamy

It was branded an "absolute waste of money", while another said it was "a disgraceful and unwanted piece of temporary nonsense".

Another visitor who paid to go up, said it was the "worst thing" she'd ever done in London.

Views of London promised from the top of the mound are obscured by trees
Views of London promised from the top of the mound are obscured by trees. Picture: Alamy

The designs for the artificial hill depicted an area of lush greenery and stunning views, but in reality, neighbouring Hyde Park is almost entirely obscured by trees.. To the right an area under development is filled with shipping containers and and rubble. A row of bins backs up to one corner of the manmade structure. 

Visitors had been offered refunds due to "teething problems" with the attraction.

Yesterday the council admitted parts of the man-made mountain in central London were "not yet ready for visitors".

The authority said it is working to resolve issues "over the next few days".

Anyone who booked a ticket for the first week will be contacted and offered a refund as well as a free return ticket "so they can see the mound at its best", the council said.

The 25-metre mound, planned by Dutch architect company MVRDV, is designed to give views of the capital's Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone.

It is part of a scheme to increase footfall in the shopping district as lockdown restrictions ease.

"In light of the delay, we are offering anybody who has booked a visit during the first week a return ticket free of charge so that they can enjoy the full experience including the Lightfield art installation, M&S Food, and the landscape once it has had time to bed in and grow," Westminster Council added.

"People who visited the mound today, and people who are booked for the rest of the week (including the weekend), will be contacted and offered a refund and a free return ticket so they can see the mound at its best.

"Anyone who has booked a visit this week can go up the mound as planned and then still take advantage of the free return ticket.

"The mound is a living building by design.

"We'll continue to adapt and improve London's newest outdoor attraction and resolve any teething problems as they emerge.

"We're sorry for the delay and look forward to welcoming visitors when they're ready to enjoy all the mound has to offer."

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