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One New Change

Not many were enjoying the view, but then it was raining on a cold weekday in March. On a summer’s Thursday or Friday evening in summer, it would look different – City workers enjoying tapas and a cocktail with a balcony view of St Paul’s Cathedral and the London skyline. That would be one more thing for the security staff at One New Change – the development across the road from St Paul’s – to manage, and not simply door policy as at any pub or club, but to make sure that too many people were not allowed to the balcony.

To see for yourself you don’t have to buy a drink at City of London prices. Charlotte Fletcher, the general manager of One New Change, said that under a section 106 agreement the balcony has to be open to the public from 6am to 11pm. While the property owners Land Securities can close it for private events, that open access means coming up the lift may be Asian tourists led by a guide, or architects admiring One New Change, the work of the French architect Jean Nouvel. You cannot help but notice how the building makes the most of St Paul’s, by offering views and reflections of the cathedral even inside the shopping mall. Visitors to One New Change, then, may be tourists who have just ‘done’ St Paul’s, besides City workers, and the shops reflect that mix; you have high street retailers (Next, Nando’s) and the more expensive and exotic for hedge fund managers (Hugo Boss). The security officers and security manager David Faldo have to provide customer service for them all. David unfolds a small City of London map that most of his officers carry, with the idea that if someone asks directions, officers can direct them. Yes, that might mean sending the visitor away from One New Change, but besides customer care there’s an element of the greater good of the district; Charlotte sits on a number of City groups seeking to improve the area. The City like London is forever changing. The financial heart of London is still far busier Monday to Friday than at weekends, but that’s changing. As is the way it’s policed. The City of London Police have, after three years of research, shifted from the ‘ring of steel’ approach that famously sought to keep the City open for business despite Irish republican terrorism. Instead – and you cannot help but see bright posters about it around the City – the force has brought in Project Servator. Briefly, the police have new tactics for policing the Square Mile. The force talks of still using the entry points, but for ‘high impact deployments’. What City workers will see instead are what the police term ‘spot operations’; and One New Change has hosted one. You will see police officers (also in plain clothes), also on bicycles, and with dogs, and horses. The force seeks to be less predictable, and more visible, to deter criminals, particularly those doing hostile reconnaissance, whether terrorists or what the force calls ‘extreme protesters’. Another aim is to reassure the public, while reminding City shoppers and workers that it is their responsibility to report any suspicions.

One New Change has more of a mix of the public than many shopping malls by choice. Besides the 60 retail units, shops and restaurants, it has eight office tenants, with perhaps 2500 workers. They can leave and enter by an on-street frontage, like any other tenanted building, or a swipe-access door that plants them inside the shopping centre. As David Faldo said: “It makes it interesting to work.” He’s been at One New Change for two and a half years, while Charlotte Fletcher has been there since six months before it opened, in October 2010. Those floors of offices does make for much busier retail floors at lunch times, as the City worker may only have an hour to do lunch – and Nando’s may well have queues outside at peak times. The mall offers a panic alert system for all retailers, that goes through to a light and spacious 24-7 control room with a video wall of ten flat screen monitors in quad mode showing various back of house and public spaces. The controllers will direct security officers to the alert – some of the retailers have their own security officers, who may be operating the alert button. The mall control room also operates the loading bay, which may have restaurant food deliveries from the small hours. David Faldo describes the security department’s work as ’70 per cent customer service, 30 per cent security’. “We get a lot of people walking in and help them if they are looking for a special shop.” As he adds, there are maps of One New Change on each floor, but officers are encouraged to look around as they are going to and from work, as it may be a visitor is looking for a shop not on the mall, but the officer may be able to direct them to somewhere on nearby Cheapside. As in any mall, if a crime or accident happens, the security officers switch to the 30pc security. A large part of the service charge is for security and cleaning, for good reason, Charlotte Fletcher says. “Not only are our security here securing the space, making it a safe environment, but they are customer service representatives also.” Hence the mall’s wish to get a calibre of officer with the right skills; security and customer care, though naturally some will be stronger in one area than another. The officers, contracted by Mitie, do fire alarm checks daily, which besides means that the officers and the retailers get to know each other’s faces. Through the rest of the week, normally at night, officers will do the other usual checks of refuge points and the like.

While One New Change is still in its infancy, Charlotte Fletcher says, its idea from the start was to being a mixed development to the City; something that can draw in the City man who wants an expensive watch or jewellery, and the receptionist that wants a lunchtime sandwich. Something we might be seeing more of in retail are the orange Amazon lockers off the retail floor on the corridor to the management office; you make your buys on the website, and have them delivered to the locker. Is this the future – a mix of physical retail stores and internet collection, and a mix of retail mall and offices? It depends is the short answer; it depends for one thing on the city. The Cabot Circus (another Land Securities property) came to mind, that opened in Bristol city centre in 2008; Charlotte Fletcher also mentioned Trinity Leeds, which opened last year. Whether or not One New Change is a blue print for wider change in retail and the City, it shows that a security set-up has to adapt to whatever are the opening hours and demands of the customers.

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