By Jacob Phillips, Local Democracy Reporter
The Marble Arch Mound has been hit with a wave of visitors keen to see how bad the attraction is.
The £6 million pop-up hill has received wide ranged criticism and been ridiculed for being a 25 metre tall “slag heap” and dubbed “London’s worst tourist attraction”.
But now Londoners and tourists alike are travelling to the centre of the capital to see if the mound is as awful as critics say.
The temporary structure was made free to climb for August after it had to close on July 28 when dead plants dropped off the side.
Westminster City Council closed the mound two days after it opened explaining it was experiencing “teething problems”.
Two weeks later the deputy leader of Westminster City Council, Melvyn Caplan, resigned from his position after it was revealed that the mound would cost three times its initial £2 million budget.
The controversy around the mound has now led to a wave of inquisitive visitors determined to make up their own minds.
Eloise and Gareth Collins decided to take a trip to Marble Arch Mound as part of a visit to the West End from Yorkshire.
The pair explained they were encouraged to come and visit after hearing about Melvyn Caplan’s resignation.
Eloise said: “I heard people on the radio saying it was a bit rubbish. It’s free now so we booked tickets this morning.”
Gareth was pleasantly surprised by the attraction. He said: “I liked getting out of the city. It was an interesting attraction. If you look through it though it’s a little bit scary.”
The pair both agreed that the suggested ticket prices of £4.50 through to £8 were too expensive.
Georgie Hay was taken along to see the mound by a friend visiting from Northumbria.
The Croydon resident was keen to see if the mound lived up to its sub-par expectations.
She said: “I had heard about it and read about it on the news. I was quite disappointed when I heard they were thinking of taking it down.
“I think it gives a really good view of this area. There is nowhere else you can get a birds’ eye view. They need to have something else at the top though.”
But not all visitors have been persuaded by the structure. Martha Blowey and Max Becker were both very disappointed with their trip up the mound.
Martha said: “I knew it was being built. I saw something going on when visiting Oxford Street. I though it could be some really posh person living at the top.
“It’s like a BTEC Effiel Tower.”
Max added: “It was disappointing at the top. You just see building works and it’s noisy.”
Both Martha and Max agreed that they would not pay to go up the mound.
The council’s leader, Rachael Robathan, said in a statement on Thursday (August 12) that her deputy Mr Caplan had resigned with immediate effect after a “totally unacceptable” rise in costs.
“The mound opened too early, and we have apologised for that,” Ms Robathan said. “It has become clear that costs have risen more than anticipated and that is totally unacceptable.
“Our original forecast cost was £3.3 million. Total costs are now £6million, covering every aspect of the project: construction, operation and eventual removal.”
The mound, planned by Dutch architect company MVRDV, was designed to give views of the capital’s Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Mayfair and Marylebone.
It is part of the £150m redevelopment of Oxford Street and is designed to increase footfall in the shopping district as lockdown restrictions ease.
The Marble Arch Mound will become ticketed again at the start of September.
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