London's Marble Arch Mound set to close this weekend

Westminster council was heavily criticised over the temporary attraction which cost $8m to build

The Marble Arch Mound, a temporary attraction in the centre of London which was widely criticised upon its opening last year, is set to close this weekend.

The 25-metre-tall man-made hill, which sits at the corner of Hyde Park and Park Lane, will no longer be open after Sunday.

The attraction was commissioned by Westminster City Council with a budget of £3.3 million but by completion it had cost almost double that at £6m ($8m).

Refunds were offered the day after it opened to the public on July 26 following what the authority called “teething problems”, with visitors complaining it was still a building site.

One branded it “the worst thing I’ve ever done in London” while others made mocking remarks, including comparing it to an abandoned theme park.

Council leader Rachael Robathan announced in August her deputy Melvyn Caplan had resigned with immediate effect after the “totally unacceptable” rise in costs.

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 was part of a plan to increase footfall in the shopping district as lockdown restrictions eased.

Tickets first cost up to £8 but entry was made free following the initial negative reaction from tourists.

Despite the poor reception, the hill has had about 250,000 visitors.

An estimated quarter of a million people visited the attraction following its opening. PA.

A council representative said: “The Mound has done what it was built to do — drawn crowds and supported the recovery in the West End.

“Central London’s economy has suffered more than any other area during the pandemic. With footfall slashed and near total loss of overseas tourists, many businesses have faced oblivion.

“We’re really pleased that nearly 250,000 visitors have come to Westminster to see The Mound and the terrific light exhibition inside. Those visitors have gone on to spend money in shops, bars and restaurants across the West End — helping local businesses to get back on their feet.”

The Mound, as the name suggests, was covered with grass and young trees after it was erected beside the Marble Arch monument.

Visitors are able to ascend the structure via a path to see what the council described as “views never seen before by the wider public”.

But, following an internal review, the council apologised and said it “must learn the lessons of The Mound project”.

The review concluded a series of errors in judgment, coupled with a “lack of sufficient oversight”, led to the failure.

It also found “robust” processes were “circumvented — driven by the desire to open The Mound as soon as possible” — a failure which the council admitted was “unacceptable".

The Mound is due to be deconstructed, a process which could take up to four months, with the materials — including trees and plants — reused.

Updated: January 7th 2022, 9:17 PM