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Soho Photography Quarter to kickstart £150m investment in Oxford Street transformation

Tom Bottomley
31 March 2021

Work has begun on the Soho Photography Quarter, the first permanent part of Westminster City Council’s £150m reinvention of Oxford Street and the surrounding area.

The project will see Ramillies Street, Ramillies Place, Hills Place and a small section of Great Marlborough Street transformed into a "Gateway to Soho" and a cultural attraction in its own right.

The Soho Photography Quarter will reflect the wider vision for the district by making the area more inviting, enhancing access for pedestrians and cyclists, improving safety and air quality, and boosting the cultural offer.

Drawing upon the legacy of Soho as a vibrant cultural hub, the Quarter will act as an open-air gallery space for the public with an annual programme of light projections and large-scale art lining the streets, introducing “a sense of vibrancy and spectacle to the area.”

Hills Place

Additional seating, “greening” and a multi-layered public arts programme will encourage people to enjoy the area and its unique character. Together with the new cultural offer, the combination of measures will create a more peaceful and relaxing place for people to take time away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street.

Debbie Jackson, Executive Director of Growth, Planning and Housing at Westminster City Council said: “Our vision for the Oxford Street District sets out to reinvent the nation’s high street.

“We want people to enjoy the time they spend in Oxford Street, and to discover new and interesting experiences around every corner. The Photography Quarter will turn this relatively unknown part of our city into a canvas for creatives to surprise and delight visitors from across the globe.”

Ramillies Street from the north

Last month the council launched its framework for the Oxford Street District, which will serve as the blueprint to reinvent the high street for a post pandemic recovery, and for the longer term. It reimagines the nation’s favourite high street through the following themes; ‘greener’, ‘smarter’, ‘future’ and ‘together’ to create a globally competitive centre for innovative retail, commercial activities, culture and living.

Recognised worldwide as a leading shopping and cultural destination and attracting around 200 million visitors in a "normal" year, Westminster City Council is leading a coalition of partners to reinvent the area and deliver further improvement projects.

From the outset, the plan is focused on a strong economic recovery and adaptation - ensuring businesses and communities have the best possible conditions to safely reopen.

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