Westminster City Council has opened a consultation on new proposals for the future of the whole of the Oxford Street area. The council is asking local residents, businesses, workers and visitors for their feedback on plans that would significantly increase walking space throughout the area whilst retaining two-way vehicle movement along the length of Oxford Street.
The council’s developed the Place Strategy and Delivery Plan after the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street was put on hold earlier in the year.
The fresh strategy has identified some 96 projects across 87 streets and spaces in nine zones, including proposals for major improvements at Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and Cavendish Square. The strategy has looked at each street in order to understand what needs to be done to enhance the heritage and character.
A draft Place Strategy was developed over the summer following rounds of discussion with 50 stakeholder groups, including residents, businesses and workers in the district, young people and special interest groups.
The city council is planning to set aside £50m each year for the next three years to deliver the strategy. It is also calling on private and public sector partners to back the improvements.
Richard Beddoe, Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning, said: “We want everyone with an interest in Oxford Street’s future to share their views through our consultation. We recognise that a major overhaul is urgently required. That’s why we have a new district wide plan with over 90 different projects proposed across 85 separate locations.”
However, the proposals have come in for criticism by campaign groups.
Joe Irvin, Chief Executive Officer of sustainable walking charity Living Streets, said: “The proposals from the City of Westminster are no doubt a step in the right direction. But the problems of road safety, overcrowding and pollution in Oxford Street, together with the challenge to its retail offer, require a transformative plan and we are not convinced these proposals are enough to meet the challenges facing Oxford Street. We also remain concerned that traffic domination across the wider area is not being adequately addressed.”
Jeremy Leach, of the London Living Streets Group, said: “There are some positive proposals in the draft plan but they could go far further. A more radical approach is needed to tackle the wider problems that the West End faces from too much traffic, high numbers of road casualties and poor air quality. London Living Streets Group wants to see the plan deliver far greater benefits to the surrounding neighbourhoods. We are of course happy to engage with the council, Transport for London and business and residents groups to turn these ideas into practical plans.”
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