Formed in 2004, the Chancery Lane Association Limited, is a company, limited by guarantee, which aims to promote and enhance the unique identity of the Chancery Lane area and its vicinity by encouraging improvements in the quality, amenity, function, convenience, value and vitality of the area. The CLA seeks to serve the ongoing and future needs of businesses, residents and visitors alike, and to act as a conduit for its members in achieving this.
The first decade
Early successes included contributing to the original Chancery Lane Strategic Development Plan and a full public consultation in 2008 resulting in the award by Transport for London of a funding package totalling £1.9 million for the widening and resurfacing of the pavements, and resurfacing of the road. This work also included the decluttering of street lighting.
2019, a busy year
2019 was a busy year for the CLA, especially notably for the continuation of the much-loved Cursitor Street Food Market. We also held an event with the Midtown Business Club showcasing the street's health-related businesses, and in May we supported the City of London and Living Streets’ guided walks around the City.
There were more security-related successes for Ed Musoke and the Business Watch scheme, a cleaning award from the City of London Corporation, continual interventions along the street to improve the streetscape, and the fourth year of the Christmas Lights. The Chancery Lane Retail Forum was also reformed to assist shops to promote themselves in the absence of a unified landlord, including the launch of a useful WhatsApp group to keep people in touch at ground level.
In September the CLA, alongside the City of London Corporation, ran the hugely successful three-day Lunchtime Streets event, a celebration of car-free streets which promoted active travel and wellbeing, and acted as a showcase for local businesses and charities. It immeasurably enhanced the lane’s reputation as a welcoming street and laid the groundwork for the current street timed-closure.
We closed the year with a poster at Chancery Lane tube station pointing to the variety of shops and restaurants along the lane.
2020, the pandemic and lockdown
In March 2020, the UK entered its first national lockdown. Following the outbreak of Covid-19. The shutdown happened the same week that the CLA would have been hosting an event with the Midtown Business Club with its health quarter members.
Instead resources were put into a street patrol working with neighbouring BIDs to help keep the area safe, and in May we started the monthly newsletter. Typical content month to month pointed towards which shops were able to open, advice from the police, TfL and any other snippets of news to help keep a sense of community going. In June we held our AGM on Zoom.
By June we were working with the City of London Corporation on making Chancery Lane traffic free 7am- 7pm from Carey Street up to Southampton Buildings to aid social distancing measures. Having the street closed to vehicles helped to create a much more pleasant environment along the lane as well as the space for cyclists and pedestrians to move more freely, challenging the dominance of the car.
Inevitably, with the yo-yoing from tentative opening back to lockdown a further two times over, and with occupiers happy to have staff work from home, the street remained quiet for the rest of the year. We held a bike surgery with the City of London Police in November, switching location at the last minute from from Cursitor Street to Holborn Circus to catch a few more commuters.
Into 2021 with cautious optimism
In 2021, as we emerged from the third lockdown with the assurance that it was the final one, we continued to promote Chancery Lane as a diverse and evolving office and retail destination. Albeit now, like the rest of the capital, facing new challenges.
The association’s What’s App Group continued in the background, providing a means for shops and business to share news and information most notably on security-related matters.
And then in the summer, when the time felt right to bring people back together, the CLA was delighted to sponsor the Midtown Business Club’s summer walk, as we had done twice previously. A happy crowd gathered at The Pregnant Man for drinks, ahead of an excellent walk guided by official Blue Badge guides.
In November the CLA collaborated again with the MBC on the third Health Wealthy event, another in-person event this time at The Vulliamy Lounge at The Law Society, giving a platform for the street’s health-related businesses to talk about wellness
Two new schemes along the lane, namely The Office Group’s refurbishment of Chancery House, now underway, and GMS’s proposed refurbishment of 5 Chancery Lane and, will shine a spotlight on the excellent quality of flexible office stock coming through.
New retailers are known to be eyeing up empty units, and Framestore has taken extra space at number 28 to cater for its expanding business.
Although not without some issues for delivery drivers, many – even most – people have noticed the improved atmosphere along the street thanks to the timed closure. The resulting outdoor space will hopefully hold the key to injecting some life into the lane, with one parklet already installed by the City of London Corporation in suspended car parking bays, and more parklets planned. The return of the food market has also been mooted, if this can be done sensitively with regard to the local food and beverage outlets not losing custom.
We hope some creative uses of empty spaces can be explored and that new retailers will also see the potential of locating in this part of town as it gets back towards pre-pandemic levels of footfall, at least for part of the week.
The CLA will use its resources to support the lane’s face-to-face businesses, the restaurants, bars and shops who took a huge hit during lockdown. All available effort will be used to help bring businesses together to create the best atmosphere possible, the most publicity and a unified approach to marketing the lane.
The emergence of the proposed Fleet Street Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) will undoubtedly impact on the CLA; utmost support will be given to the new BID whose westerly boundary will run along Chancery Lane, taking in the majority of current CLA members.