The proposed pedestrianisation scheme of London’s Oxford Street has been scrapped completely after Westminster City Council confirmed it has been “taken off the table for good”.
The local authority ditched the plans after it found “the majority of its residents” were against the proposals to make the world-famous retail destination traffic-free between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus by the end of this year.
The plans – which were regarded a flagship policy from London Mayor Sadiq Khan – had received support from the general public via a public consultation and from Transport for London.
Khan said he “won’t walk away from Oxford Street” and that Westminster Council’s decision was a “betrayal of millions of Londoners”.
He added that the move “poses a real threat to the future” of the street.
However, Westminster Council leader Nickie Aiken said a “rethink of the whole strategy” was required.
“It was clear through two public consultations and recent council elections that local people do not support the pedestrianisation proposals,” she said.
The chief executive of the New West End Group, Jace Tyrrell, has also expressed disappointment and frustration after working on the campaigning for the pedestrianisation for two years.
“We are deeply concerned that the partnership between Westminster City Council and the Mayor, which we believe is vital for the successful financing and delivery of a project of this scale, appears to have broken down.” he said.
“Westminster City Council recognise that something fundamental needs to be done to Oxford Street and therefore it is imperative that these radical changes and pace for change remain its top priority.
“This investment is also essential to ensure that local residents’ lives are not worsened by the massive influx of new visitors.”
In phase one of the proposal, 800m of Europe’s busiest high street would become entirely traffic free, saving the already heavily-congested space for the influx of shoppers expected with the opening of the Elizabeth Line.
However, just days before the local council elections month, residents in nearby Marylebone, Fitzrovia and Mayfair expressed their concerns to Westminster Council that the diverted traffic would add to the congestion and pollution outside their homes.
“We welcome the Mayor remaining fully committed and stating he will not walk away from Oxford Street,” Tyrrell said.
“With 60 million extra people arriving a year by 2020 from the Elizabeth line, our businesses are more determined than ever to see urgent measures in place to address safety and air quality concerns and that a scheme is brought forward which is fit for 21st century retailing.
“It is imperative the politicians protect and safeguard the jobs of the 80,000 employees on Oxford Street and we will continue to do all that we can to ensure that this generational opportunity is not lost for the nation’s high street.”
Around a million people were directly contacted for the public consultation between November 6 November and January 3, via email, letters and leaflets.
Transport for London (TfL) and Westminster City Council said 64 per cent of the 22,000 responses received on plans to transform London’s famous shopping street were in favour of the proposals in some form.
This followed an earlier initial consultation in spring 2017, which saw 62 per cent of the 12,000 responses supporting the principles behind the transformation of Oxford Street.