This month we talk to Mark Field, MP for the City of London and Westminster, proud father of two children and local resident in Victoria.
How long have you lived in Victoria?
I have lived in Victoria for the past 10 years. I live in Carlisle Place, so I am a local resident, and I have been the local MP here now for 15 years. I have watched the physical development of Victoria as a local resident with interest and have obviously been well aware of what’s been planned particularly by Land Securities in my constituency role. I think I speak for most people who live in Victoria, when I say we are very happy to see the enhancement to the area in terms of the infrastructure, the shops, the station itself being improved and watching the way in which it has become a much more attractive and prestigious place to live and to work.
What is your favourite spot?
Well obviously I love Carlisle Place where I live, but I think the great thing about Victoria is there are so many unusual parts you can go to. Eaton Lane, for example, leads to the Goring Hotel, then suddenly you come across Victoria Square, which is a little oasis. I think a lot of the garden work that is going on by the St James Theatre is great. So, I can’t say that I have only one favourite place because I am sure that with all the development and improvement taking place they will be superseded as time goes by.
What is your favourite lunchtime spot?
Ten years ago when I moved here you wouldn’t think about Victoria immediately as a ‘food’ destination, but that has changed dramatically. Gustoso’s I like very much, which is based just off Francis Street. It is a really good Italian restaurant that deserves more fame and fortune. With the Nova building being completed and adding a whole new set of eateries, Victoria will be an area where you are not going to need to walk more than five minutes to find a first class restaurant.
What is the biggest change you have experienced in Victoria?
Well, in transport terms that change is still ongoing, but I think once the underground station is finished and you have a second entrance and exit it’s going to be a lot more agreeable and we won’t have this chaotic bundling of buses and pedestrians. You’ll have a place which will be much more of a pleasure to be in and I think that will make a difference to the whole.
If you could change one thing in Victoria, what would it be?
Well, I suppose, it would be lovely to have a bit more greenery around, although we generally get very spoiled in central London, and I think we are very close to parks anyway.
I hope that once the underground station work has settled down, we can make a bit more out of Grosvenor Gardens, as it should be more open and more utilised not just by the people who work in Victoria, but also by those who live nearby. Having children playgrounds and everything else included within that space would be great.
What is your favourite story about Victoria?
What many people don’t realise is that the railway line that came north of the river Thames was a part of a canal and the basin of that canal was where Victoria Station is now.
For about 50 years it was a canal, then it got built over by a railway and who knows what will be there in 150 years’ time. The station has been around since the 1850s and who is to say by the year 2200 we could be in an entirely different situation, maybe some sort of private “Teleporter” station! The idea that it’s going to be a railway station forever more is unlikely, although I have a house in Mallorca so it is very handy getting down from Victoria on the Gatwick Express to Gatwick Airport, which is one added benefit with two young children.
That is the thing to watch for – how different Victoria might end up being in the future.
What is your message for the people out there in Victoria?
Above all, make sure the voice of residents is heard but ensure that the voice doesn’t stop further development as I think it would be a good thing to have Crossrail 2, although there will be some more disruptions because of it.
The thing I’ve learned from representing the constituency over the last 15 years, is that a strong residential voice makes a real difference. You can improve the streetscapes you can improve the conditions and make it more liveable. Inevitably you live in the centre of London so you can’t be unrealistic as there will always be noise.
My message would be, remember that Victoria is a great place to work and to play but it should also be a great place to live.
What is the biggest issue/challenge Victoria is facing in the future?
One potential challenge would be that a lot of new luxury flats are being built and could be owned by people who don’t live in them full time. I think Land Securities are quite aware of these concerns and keen to ensure that they bring on the building of these flats in phases.
It will be a challenge if too few people living in Victoria have a direct stake in it, but that is a challenge for a lot of the new developments in central London and I hope Land Securities will try to ensure as far as possible that this doesn’t happen.
Our next Cup of Tea with….will be with Nigel Hughes and be out next month. To stay up to date with everything going on in Victoria follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or sign up to our newsletter here.Back to our news Top