- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
Westminster City Council has agreed a budget and timetable to deliver what it is calling its “ambitious vision” for the transformation of the Oxford Street district in London, after withdrawing its support for plans to pedestrianise the west side of Oxford Street proposed by the London Mayor’s office and Transport for London.
Following the councils decision to take the full scale pedestrianisation of Oxford Street off the table as an option, it states its new scheme still provides a comprehensive response to the long term challenges facing the district including poor air quality, changing nature of retail and safety issues related to the opening of the Elizabeth Line.
While we are still waiting for detailing information on the plans for the area, spanning the length of the Oxford Street from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch, the council has said that it has “immediately started work” on drafting the proposal up and it will be shared ahead of a public consultation in November.
The council’s cabinet has agreed to set aside 727,000 pounds of its own funds to develop a new district wide solution, entitled ‘Place Based Strategy’, which it has outlined will include more space for people to enjoy “new and reinvigorated public places that are greener, less polluted, and seamlessly connected to each other and the wider West End”.
In addition, it says that the scheme will “enhance the rich heritage of this historic area” with complementary changes in planning policy to enable greater diversity that will bring “new vibrancy, new life and sustainable economic growth with innovative retail experiences at the core of the offer”.
Westminster City Council agrees budget and timetable for new Oxford Street transformation
Councillor Nickie Aiken, leader of Westminster City Council, said in a statement: “Our exciting vision and the plans we have agreed for the Oxford Street district will give residents and businesses the certainty they want as we deliver ambitious plans that will improve and future proof Oxford Street for many generations to come. There is a necessity to vastly enhance the overall experience for residents, workers and those visiting the district and this is the focus of the new project.
“Our fresh scheme will respond to safety issues related to the opening of the Elizabeth Line and will then transform the Oxford Street district into a global, iconic destination.”
The Oxford Street district project development will comprise of four stages, starting with the council carrying out an audit and engagement with residents and other stakeholders to establish issues, priorities, vision and projects for the district over the summer.
The council will then produce a place based strategy from September to October to inform the development of preferred solutions for the district. A public consultation will follow in November with a view to implementing the plan in January 2019.
In addition to this work, the council also added that it is looking closely at what pedestrian safety measures may be required in advance of the opening of the Elizabeth Line stations at Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street, currently scheduled for December 2018.
Aiken added: “Our coherent and district wide solution will be much more than a transport scheme. It will ensure Oxford Street retains its status as the nation’s high street in a rapidly evolving retail environment and is renowned as a must visit destination by visitors from London, the UK and overseas.”
When Westminster City Council scrapped plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street last month London Mayor, Sadiq Khan called it a “betrayal” to Londoners.
Khan, who had been a vocal supporter of Oxford Street being traffic-free from Selfridges to Oxford Circus, took to his Twitter and said: “This will be seen as a betrayal of the million of Londoners and visitors to our city who would have benefited from making Oxford Street a safer, healthier and better environment. All of the main mayoral candidates agreed on the need for the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street at the last election, as did Westminster Council.
Image: courtesy of The New West End Company