Letter: Stroll into the new millennium

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The Independent Online
Sir: As I read - and sympathised with - the hopes of Lord Rogers for the Millennium Dome (interview, 23 December) I wondered if it would not be more daring, and more sensible, to spend millions, hundreds of millions, on transforming central London - even briefly - into a car-free zone.

World's Largest Pedestrian City? Millennium Festival: Biggest Street Fair Ever? What would a season of traffic-free London produce in terms of visitors, events, and defining London as the city of the future? What would pounds 700m buy? A week? A month? Six months? And what if it included imaginative transformations of Trafalgar Square, Marylebone Road, the Mall, Oxford Street? Temporary constructions, happenings, performance spaces, gardens.

The Exhibition of 1851 was partly about things to come. It fired the imagination, drawing the curious from around the world. It was hugely successful, and transformed London.

What worked then doesn't work now. Faith in technology has eroded. Architectural monuments and grand landscapes are less and less likely to draw people. We look for improved quality of life in less tangible things: free time, open space, peace and quiet, a healthy environment and a sense of common purpose. A bold step in that direction would again bring people from around the world. It might mark the start of another era.


London N4