A 25-metre-tall hill in London's Hyde Park that cost £2m to build has opened to the public for up to £8 a ticket.
The Marble Arch Mound, commissioned by Westminster City Council and located on the corner of Hyde Park at the western end of Oxford Street, opened to visitors on Monday morning.
The temporary hill has been designed to create jobs, attract visitors back to the area and combat traffic pollution through green landscaping.
Visitors can ascend to a viewing platform at the summit, with tickets costing between £4.50 to £8. The attraction closes in January 2022.
The lord mayor of Westminster, Cllr Jonathan Glanz, said: “I think it’s really exciting to see this coming out of the ground and giving a new aspect – literally – of views in this part of London.
Cllr Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council, added: “We really hope the scheme will serve two purposes. First, to draw and encourage people back into the centre and Westminster. We know that footfall is still down by about 50% so we really need to show that it’s open for business.
“Second, I hope that when people climb up here and see these fabulous views, they’ll be able to see Oxford Street through fresh eyes."
Meanwhile, Kay Buxton, chief executive of Marble Arch London Business Improvement District, said it would be a "much-needed shot in the arm for the recovery of London’s hospitality sector".
“With international tourism still on hold, the sector is relying on domestic tourism to boost income,” she added.
However, the project has also drawn a wave of criticism, with social media users complaining about ticket prices and branding it a “patchy hill” and a “big pile of mud”.
Liberal Democrat peer Sarah Ludlow wrote: “I did wonder what that horrible eyesore was, obscuring John Nash’s Marble Arch, when I saw it from a bus recently.
“Wonder what council tax-payers in @CityWestminster think?”
Watch: Marble Arch Mound to offer previously unseen view of London
Meanwhile, Stewart Martin, an urban economics expert, said: “I thought this was a wind-up until I found the website – but the vision and the reality appear to be quite different!”
One Twitter user, who had run past the mound on Sunday, said: “It’s literally just scaffolding covered in patchy sod and plastic sheeting.”
She added: "You can pay £8(!!) to climb the stairs to marvel at the busy intersection from a height."
Another wrote: “Was just wondering the point and the cost of that big pile of mud at marble arch?" while a a third said: “Sorry that mound at Marble Arch is horrific. Absolute monstrosity.”
One person tweeted: “I become more and more bewildered by the Marble Arch Mound as the days go on,” while another wrote: “This really is a very poor idea and looks even worse than it sounds in real life and that is saying something.”
The hill, designed by Dutch architect company MVRDV, offers a single climbing route to the top, which consists of about 130 stairs.
A lift is available to take visitors to the top and back down.
M&S Food has set up trucks to provide food and drinks from inside and outside the mound.
Yahoo News UK has contacted Westminster City Council for comment.
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