Westminster Council approves new Oxford Street strategy for public consultation

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Oxford Street strategy

Westminster City Council’s cabinet has approved the new draft strategy for London’s Oxford Street precinct to be taken forward for public consultation next month.

The council said its fresh Place Strategy and Delivery Plan included 96 projects across 87 streets and spaces in nine zones.

The projects included proposals for major improvements at Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and Cavendish Square.

Other proposals included banning commercial vehicles that are not zero emissions on Oxford Street, ensuring all buses are zero-emissions, imposing a 20m/ph speed limit, introduce two new cycle routes and construct a “piazza-style space” on Oxford Street junction.

Westminster Council added that it has “looked in depth at every street” to determine what needed to be done to “enhance the heritage and character” of the retail and lifestyle district.

As a result, the council is planning on setting aside £150 million – or £50 million per year for the next three years – in order to turn the strategy into reality and is calling on private and public partners to back the improvements.

The draft of the strategy was developed over  summer following rounds of discussion with 50 stakeholder groups, including residents, businesses, workers in the district, young people and special interest groups.

The consultation will run from November 6 until December 16, and will a series of exhibitions across the district and opportunities for people to have their say.

“As proud custodians of the Oxford Street District, Westminster City Council is determined to make sure it retains the crown as the nation’s high street in the face of huge challenges and on line competition.

Cr Richard Beddoe, Westminster Council cabinet member for planning, said a major overhaul of the district was “urgently required”.

“Our new game-changing strategy sets out just what needs to be done so that the district keeps its edge as a great place to live, work and remains a `must visit’ destination,” he said.

“The area’s ongoing success is key to generating prosperity, employment opportunities and wealth for the capital, as well as the country.

“Everyone with an interest in securing Oxford Street’s success should share their view when the consultation opens as that way, together, we can secure an amazing future for the nation’s high street.”

According to Westminster Council, 600,000 people visit Oxford Street every day, with 30 per cent of those from overseas.

The area also employs 155,000 people, with 49 per cent in professional services, and annual retail sales for Oxford, Regent and Bond streets top £9 billion.

The draft strategy comes months after Westminster Council confirmed that initial plans for a pedestrianisation of Oxford Street, considered to a flagship policy of London Mayor Sadiq Khan, had been “taken off the table for good”.

Despite receiving support from the general public via a public consultation and from Transport for London, the council said it was clear “through two public consultations and recent council elections that local people do not support the pedestrianisation proposals”.

Khan slammed the decision, calling it a “betrayal of millions of Londoners”, adding that the move “poses a real threat to the future” of the street.

He subsequently banned the council for using any funds from Transport for London for a redevelopment without his approval.

A key issue for the precinct is the prospect of increased overcrowding in the already heavily-congested area with the introduction of the Elizabeth Line, due to open between the end of this year and early 2019.

This is set to see 60 million extra people visit the Oxford Street and West per year by 2020 and increase visitor numbers to Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street stations by 81 per cent and 57 per cent respectively by 2021.

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