The group which manages the Oxford St retail precinct has cautiously welcomed plans from the Mayor of London’s office to make the world-famous thoroughfare pedestrian-only by 2020.
As part of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to tackle air pollution, all traffic – including buses and taxies – will be banned from Oxford St and completely pedestrianised.
Deputy mayor for transport Valerie Shawcross told the London Assembly today that the vehicle ban would stretch from Tottenham Court Rd down to Marble Arch, and the pedestrianisation will coincide with the opening of the Crossrail line.
The New West End Company (NWEC), the group that manages 25 retail-centric streets in London’s West End including Oxford, Regent and Bond streets, welcomed the news but said the mayor’s office needed to genuinely reduce traffic rather than just re-route it.
“We continue to welcome the high importance that the mayor is placing on traffic reduction on Oxford St to help secure the success of the West End and drive improvements in air quality,” NWEC chief executive Jace Tyrrell said.
“[We have] been campaigning for reduced traffic in the West End for many years including ongoing discussions with the mayor’s office, Transport for London and Westminster City Council through the West End Partnership.
“We look forward to seeing and discussing detailed proposals for Oxford St following Ms Shawcross’s statements but feel very strongly that any form of vehicle free zones must lead to a genuine reduction of traffic, rather than large scale re-routing down smaller residential or commercial streets.
“In addition, it must be accompanied by a full economic assessments to measure the impact on businesses and the shoppers and workers that travel to the West End every day via public transport.”
Private cars are already banned along one part of Oxford St between 7am and 7pm each day except Sunday, but it’s still a major thoroughfare for buses and taxis.
Both Oxford and Regent streets have often held traffic-free trading days, especially in the lead-up to Christmas.
Earlier this week, the NWEC announced plans boost Oxford St’s annual sales by £1 billion in 2020, two years after the Crossrail arrives in 2018
The group appointed agency Wasserman to help widen its sponsorship and partnership strategy and to help reposition its brand by focusing on exclusive experiences for customers.
The iconic London high street already generates £5 billion per year in sales and NWEC hopes to hit an annual target of £6 billion by 2020.
“Crossrail’s arrival in 2018 gives the West End a once in a generation opportunity to fundamentally change the area and invest in its infrastructure and public realm to maintain our pre-eminent position as the world’s top shopping district,” Tyrell said.