Now, I’m sure we’re all familiar with the M25 widening project – the £6.2 billion (€8.5 billion; $9.2 billion) programme of road widening and improvements to increase capacity and improve reliability on London’s orbital motorway. Awarded as a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract in 2009, the project runs for 30 years.
But what may be less well known is that one of the UK’s most iconic examples of infrastructure has now become a catwalk wonder. Yes, you read it right. At the recent London Fashion Show, a collection by designer Anya Hindmarch was described in media reports as an “ode to the M25”. Hindmarch herself claimed to have been inspired by the trance induced by a clear stretch of road and “the combination of lights, reflective surfaces and your favourite piece of music”.
Hence, the audience were greeted by the sight of ‘stop’ and ‘go’ arrows on handbags which had traffic cone tassels dangling from their straps while speed limit signs adorned the room. The show was brought to a conclusion by a performance from the London Gay Men’s Chorus dressed in uniforms that featured high-vis jackets and white safety helmets.
Those who speak of infrastructure as a boring asset class have clearly been guilty of underestimating the potential scope of its appeal.