Oxford Street pedestrianisation draws step closer after new plans receive public backing

Rebecca Smith
The mayor pledges in his manifesto remove traffic from Oxford Street
The mayor pledges in his manifesto remove traffic from Oxford Street (Source: Getty)

The pedestrianisation of Oxford Street is a step closer, after Transport for London (TfL) announced public support from its first consultation into plans to transform the shopping hub.

There were 11,953 responses to the proposals, with 43 per cent saying they supported the transformation of Oxford Street and were comfortable with the changes that would be necessary to make it happen. A further 19 per cent said they supported the scheme, but had concerns about the changes.

Plans floated in the consultation include the banning of taxis, as well as restricting delivery lorries' presence on the street to night-time, or banning them altogether.

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Oxford Street attracts more than 500,000 visitors each day, and while taxis make up around a third of the traffic on the street, they account for two per cent of trips, with most people opting to walk or use the Tube.

However, nearly a third of respondents said they didn't support the transformation of Oxford Street, and TfL said feedback was clear that any scheme must address a range of transport, accessibility and congestion concerns raised by locals and others.

Cab drivers had previously warned that their service was essential for those needing a door-to-door service such as wheelchair users and the elderly.

TfL has already confirmed plans to cut the number of buses running on Oxford Street by 40 per cent by next year to improve the reliability of the network and help tackle congestion.

The transport body and Westminster Council launched the consultation earlier this year into pedestrianising the busiest section of the street, spanning Orchard Street to Oxford Circus. A second consultation will commence early next month, looking to offer a "district wide solution" to improving the street.

With the arrival of the Elizabeth Line next year, a significant increase in the number of visitors to the area is expected, and TfL says it is "vital that these key issues", including poor air quality, a high number of collisions and severe overcrowding, are addressed.

At present, the plan is to deliver the transformation in stages.

Oxford Street transformation in three phases

1. Oxford Street West - June 2018-December 2018: Section of Oxford Street between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus, including improvements to side roads and adjacent areas.

2. Oxford Street East - Early 2019 to early 2020: Section of Oxford Street between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, including improvements to side roads and adjacent areas.

3. Marble Arch - Post 2020: Section between Marble Arch and Orchard Street, which does not yet have dates, with the phase presently unfunded.

Alex Williams, director of City planning at Transport for London, said: "Wherever you go around the world, if you mention Oxford Street, people know you are talking about London. However, the area is already very busy and growth in London’s population and economy will bring even more people to the area.

"Along with reducing the number of buses along Oxford Street by 40 per cent, the introduction of the Elizabeth Line provides a once in a generation opportunity to tackle the challenges of poor air quality and congestion to help ensure that it retains its iconic status for years to come.

"The strong support from this consultation has shown that there is a desire to make Oxford Street and the wider area an even better place to live, work and visit. We will now work to further analyse the consultation responses and address the issues raised as we develop our plans for a truly transformational scheme for all."

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