Westminster City Council has approved the draft of its new Oxford Street District Strategy plan and is putting it out to public consultation during November and December. The move comes after the council put the brakes on a previous plan drawn up with Transport for London (TFL) and the Mayor’s office to pedestrianise Oxford Street’s west stretch.
The Council’s fresh Place Strategy and Delivery Plan has identified 96 projects across 87 streets and spaces in nine zones, including proposals for major improvements at Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and Cavendish Square. It stops short of pedestrianising Oxford Street but promises to “create the equivalent of two Trafalgar Squares of additional pedestrian space amidst beautiful new public spaces”.
Major improvements are proposed at key locations, including a new public piazza style space at Oxford Circus and a reinvigorated gateway to the West End at Marble Arch. While two-way traffic will still run the length of Oxford Street the plan moving forward is for all commercial vehicles that are not zero emission to be banned and to introduce a 20mph limit across the district.
New cycling routes will be introduced across the district and improvements will be made to shopfronts and exteriors with additional lighting and trees in certain areas.
Councillor Richard Beddoe, Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning, said: “No other major city in the world has sought to refresh and revitalise a whole district in such a comprehensive and ambitious fashion.
“In developing this strategy we have listened carefully to those who know best – those who live, work, visit and do business in the area that has helped shape our deep understanding of what makes the place so special and what we should do to enhance the area.
“We are all well aware of the challenges the district faces and we want to bring all the available public and private resources to bear to tackle them head on and future proof the district’s ongoing success which is vital for Westminster and London. This strategy and the significant funding we have set aside is the enabler to make this happen.”
Westminster said it had consulted with residents, businesses, workers, young people and special interest groups before drafting the plans which will now be made available for a public consultation, which will run from 6 November to 16 December.
Earlier this year Westminster put plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street on permanent hold after they were met with resistance from residents in neighbouring areas such as Mayfair, Soho, Fitzrovia and Marylebone who had concerns about the impact on traffic. The news was met with disappointment from the Mayor of London and TFL but Westminster, who ultimately controls the area, said it would develop its own, more appropriate plans.
The council has said it will put aside some £50m each year for the next three years to execute the strategy. Oxford Street is one of the most important streets in the country from an economic standpoint. Annual retail sales on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street total £9bn and some 600,000 people visit the street every day. When the two West End Elizabeth Line stations open in 2020, an additional 60m visitors are expected on top of the existing 200m annually.