You had to feel a little sorry for the workmen tearing up Cheapside on Sunday, as they tried and failed to direct pedestrians around the cordoned-off street. They probably weren’t expecting this many people along a part of town that’s normally quiet on the weekend. Yet they’ll see more of the same in the future: new shopping centre and office complex One New Change opened last week, and if the bluster of its owners and developers are anything to go by, it is set to change how people think about the Square Mile on weekends.
Firstly, the bad news for those not interested in shopping: the roof terrace isn’t open to the public yet — November 18th is the date pencilled in at the moment. The quality of the building itself we’ve discussed previously, leaving us with the shops and restaurants, which is where all the hype starts sounding a little hollow. The angles and fritted glass of the building aside, One New Change is a standard, early 21st-century shopping centre / office block, with a list of tenants familiar to anyone who has ever visited a conurbation in Britain. Tried and trusted blands, sorry, brands stock the retail units: a full list is available in this PDF. If you have a jones for another H&M, Topshop, All Saints, Reiss Dune, then you’ll be well served by a visit.
Appealing as this all will be to City workers (whose initial impressions are positive) and those who find themselves in the Square Mile of a weekend, it’s difficult to see that there’s enough to draw in people for whom Oxford Street, either Westfield, or Brent Cross is better located. One New Change will likely prove a success, narrowly defined as such in terms of till receipts — a nation of shoppers, as modern Britain is, will welcome any number of additional retailers selling the same things that you can get up the road — but it is at heart a souped-up mall in a very conspicuous building.