Silicon Roundabout’s expected makeover has been a talking point since TfL unveiled its plans to transform the area into a pedestrian-friendly zone, demolishing the renowned roundabout in favour of a large public square, cycle lanes and pop-up shops.
Image credit: Paul Wilkinson
There are, however, plenty of other developments taking place in London’s fast-growing tech city. From rent prices to broadband speeds, it’s the little things that count right now, making significant changes to the way the capital’s start-ups and big businesses operate.
Image Credit: William Warby
In 2012, David Cameron announced the government’s plans to regenerate the Silicon Roundabout area with an impressive investment of £50million. The intention was to build “the largest civic space in Europe – a place for start-up companies and the local community to come together and become the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
The centre was designed to support up to 200 start-ups per year, helping an estimated 1000 job-seekers find a role suiting their skills, and was planned to host 3D printing services and international conferences in a 400-seat auditorium.
Work was planned to start in 2014, but in March of that year, it was announced that no final decisions had been made, and the money will remain with the treasury until an agreement has been reached.
Image Credit: Amazon
The government’s second thoughts about their investment don’t seem to have deterred big names such as Amazon from joining London’s Tech City.
The internet giant announced their plans to build Principal Place: a new office with a 5000-employee capacity, to be finished by 2016. Amazon’s managing director, Christopher North, said the development would allow them to create thousands of permanent roles in London across the coming years.
Image Credit: Joscelyn Upendran
Smaller companies, however, are finding it harder to set up shop in the area with rent prices on the rise. Small businesses are increasingly complaining about being unable to afford premises in Silicon Roundabout, with some seeing their rent near-doubled over the past five years.
Some are concerned that the price hike will see start-ups moving to other areas of the capital, with King’s Cross and the East End becoming increasingly popular places.
Image Credit: Virgin Media
One draw that might keep companies close is Virgin Media’s promise to improve internet speeds in the area.
It’s long been a point of irony that London’s internet hub has such poor connectivity – and it’s been a common complaint amongst start-ups who aren’t able to reach the speeds they need to do effective business.
In February 2015, Virgin Media announced that they planned to tackle the issue by rolling out fibre-optic broadband over a period three months. Approximately 500 start-ups are set to benefit from the changes.
To find out more about Silicon Roundabout and London’s tech city, join our walking tour of the area.