Plans to transform Oxford Street and the surrounding area into an unrivalled place to live, work and visit have received widespread support, it was confirmed today.
The plans, subject of a recent consultation by Westminster City Council and Transport for London, proposed a new traffic-free area between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus, delivered by December 2018 to coincide with launch of Elizabeth line services. The aspiration behind the proposed improvements was to see the creation of safe, accessible and inspiring public spaces for people of all ages to enjoy. These would rival those in other world cities such as Paris and New York, and include improved pedestrian crossings, wider pavements and provide additional taxi ranks on surrounding roads.
The residents, families and community around Oxford Street were at the centre of thinking for these improvements to address some of the very serious and pressing issues of poor road safety and air quality on and around Oxford Street.
All residents, those working in the area and visitors were invited to comment on the detailed plans on the section between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus, as well as the surrounding area, as part of an eight-week consultation which ran from 6 November 2017 – 3 January 2018.
Around a million people were directly contacted with emails, letters and leaflets. 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.
More than 22,000 responses were received as part of this second consultation. Of those who responded to the online consultation directly, 64 per cent supported all or some of the plans to transform the area.
Thirty-three per cent of those who responded to the online consultation did not support the plans. TfL also received around 7,000 written responses as part of a Living Streets campaign supporting the scheme, and a further 632 written responses as part of a local campaign against the proposal.
TfL and Westminster City Council are now considering every one of the issues raised by the huge response to the consultation before Westminster Council takes any further decision on how to proceed. The issues raised include traffic and air quality on residential roads, provision of a safe cycle route through the wider area, management of the public space and ensuring that Oxford Street remains accessible for all.
Cllr Daniel Astaire, Cabinet Member for Planning and Public Realm, said: “We’re pleased that we have had such a significant response to this important consultation and we now need to take our time to look in detail at every issue raised before we take any final decision to make sure we get it right. We know that people are very passionate about this iconic part of London and that is why we are clear that it has to be the right scheme that works in the best interests of those who live, work and visit the area.”
Val Shawcross, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “I’m delighted that so many Londoners have got involved and given us their backing to transform Oxford Street and the surrounding area. Our plans will make Oxford Street one of the finest public spaces and shopping streets in the world, while investing in widespread improvements to make the area cleaner and safer.
“We will now look at all the consultation responses in detail to ensure that everyone’s views are taken on board. Whether you’re a resident, a business, or regularly shop in the area, we must ensure the final details of the plan truly provide benefits to the millions of people who use the area every year.”
Alex Williams, Director of City Planning at TfL, said: “The introduction of the Elizabeth line later this year will significantly increase the number of people walking along Oxford Street and this creates a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform the area into an unrivalled place to live, visit and work. The results of this consultation show that there is a strong desire to improve the West End and make Oxford Street more pedestrian focused. All points raised in the consultation are being considered and we continue to work with Westminster City Council ahead of a final decision on the scheme later this year.”
While a final decision is still to be made on the scheme, a range of work is already underway in the area surrounding Oxford Street to prepare for the launch of the Elizabeth line in December 2018. This new east-west rail line will bring as many as 40 per cent more visitors to Oxford Street, on top of the 500,000 that arrive each day and provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the area.
Public realm works around the new Elizabeth line Bond Street station on Davies Street will begin from next month. Improvements will include wider footways and a raised junction in front of the entrance to accommodate the expected increase in pedestrian flows, with the area decluttered and new cycle stands, ‘Legible London’ signage and lighting installed. Works to improve the area around Hanover Square will also be carried out by Westminster City Council later this year to improve access to the new Elizabeth line station entrance.
Improvements are already being made along Wigmore Street following agreement with Westminster City Council late last year. These include improved pedestrian crossings and widened pavements to provide more space for local residents and visitors. These works are being closely aligned with the wider Baker Street two-way project to ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum.
TfL, Westminster City Council and Camden Council are also working with local businesses, fleet operators and organisations across the West End to help reduce the impact of freight deliveries and service trips. The number of deliveries made on local roads can be significantly reduced through a range of measures, such as better coordinating deliveries or retiming / consolidating them alongside other businesses in the area. This will reduce pollution, congestion and noise throughout the wider area.
To view the full consultation report, please visit www.tfl.gov.uk/oxford-street