Monday, 17 January, 2022
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Marble Arch Mound: Much-mocked tourist attraction to close

Marble Arch Mound: Much-mocked tourist attraction to close

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A tourist attraction that opened incomplete, over budget and led to resignations is set to close.

The Marble Arch Mound, which was supposed to attract people back into the heart of the city, charged visitors up to £8 when it opened in July.

However, the £6m artificial hill was forced to close temporarily when plants and grass began to die on the structure surrounded by scaffolding.

Scheduled to run until January, it shuts for the final time on Sunday.

It was branded a "monstrosity" and a "disgrace" on social media while a New York Times headline read: "Londoners Were Promised a Hill With a View. They Got a Pile of Scaffolding."

Westminster Council's deputy leader Melvyn Caplan, who was responsible for the project, resigned from his role after total costs nearly tripled from an initial forecast of £2m.

The mound was mocked on social media and in the press as plants dislodged and cascaded down the slopes while its young trees struggled in the summer heat.

July's ticketholders, who paid between £4.50 and £8, were offered refunds for the artificial viewing platform, which dropped its entry fee after reopening in August.

The Tory-led council review to "understand what went wrong and ensure it never happens again" described the soaring costs of the scheme as "devastating" and "avoidable".

Senior council officers hid details and lied about how much money the mound would make and there was a basic lack of project management, the report found.

Labour councillors branded the project, which was always expected to close this month, "a disaster from start to finish".

One of them, Paul Dimoldenberg, said: "The Conservative councillors responsible for the Marble Arch Mound should hang their heads in shame and apologise to the people of Westminster for wasting so much public money."

Organisers claim the man-made mound boosted footfall to the West End and helped the area recover from the financial damage caused by the pandemic.

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

"We're really pleased that over 242,000 people have visited to see the Mound and the terrific light exhibition inside."