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Marble Arch Mound: London's £6m 'slag heap' made free to visit permanently
1 September 2021, 17:46
London's troubled Marble Arch Mound, dubbed the city's "worst tourist attraction", will be free to enter permanently, organisers have announced.
The tourist attraction, described by many as a "slag heap", 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 large hill near Marble Arch welcomed its first visitors in July this summer - with organisers hoping it would bring people back to central London following the easing of Covid restrictions.
However, it closed just two days after opening, with organisers admitting "it wasn't ready".
The hill initially cost between £4.50 and £8 to climb, but it was quickly made free following complaints from visitors.
Westminster City Council said since the mound was made free to climb it attracted more than 60,000 people in August.
It confirmed the mound will be made free permanently - until the end of its temporary installation in January 2022 - as they believe it will "encourage even more people".
A Westminster City Council spokesperson said: “We built the Mound to bring people back into the West End at a time when low footfall continues to have a negative effect on businesses and jobs in the area.
"It’s encouraging that, since it’s been free to climb, over 60,000 people have visited.
"We believe continuing to offer free entry will encourage even more people to visit and spend time in our city – boosting local business, protecting jobs and bringing the buzz back to our streets.”
The 25-metre mound, planned by Dutch architect company MVRDV, was designed to give views of the capital's Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone.
However, the mound was likened to the hill from children's TV programme the Teletubbies and was branded an "absolute waste of money" by one visitor.
The scheme was originally forecast to cost the council £3.3 million but this figure has now doubled.
Council leader Rachael Robathan said in a statement last month that costs had risen "more than anticipated" and described the spend as "totally unacceptable".
She confirmed that total costs are now £6 million, covering every aspect of the project; construction, operation and eventual removal.
Westminster City Council's deputy leader Melvyn Caplan, who was responsible for leading the project, resigned last month amid backlash over the cost of the project.
Labour MP for Westminster North Karen Buck tweeted that the mound was a result of "staggering incompetence". She added: "£6 million of taxpayers money squandered while vital services are struggling to meet needs!"
Another Twitter user commented that the mound "isn’t even tall enough to get a view above the trees", and that it is the same height as neighbouring buildings.