London mayor Sadiq Khan today indicated that turning the capital's famous shopping hub Oxford Street traffic-free could lead to wider pedestrianisation across the capital.
It was announced today that the first part of Oxford Street's revamp will be delivered by the end of next year, subject to public consultation.
The mayor and Westminster City Council outlined proposals to ban all east-west traffic from entering Oxford Street between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus, while allowing the north-south routes through the section.
And speaking at the launch of the plans today, Khan told City A.M. there could be wider pedestrianisation post-Oxford Street.
“I think the idea is to have this, the busiest shopping street in the world, pedestrianised sooner rather than later, and then we’ll look at the lessons to be learned here. I’m, for example, on record as saying I think Parliament Square should be pedestrianised,” Khan said.
“It’s a suck it and see approach,” he added.
Part of Croydon’s town centre is set to be pedestrianised as part of a pilot scheme, while Bank junction has gone car-free amid a long-running trial to improve safety.
The mayor did though, stress that any potential changes needed to be fleshed out with clear ways to avoid simply moving the traffic problem to another part of London.
“What we don’t what to do is have negative consequences of pedestrianising parts of London,” Khan said.
The Oxford Street proposals, he added, had been “very carefully worked on”, to ensure that residents do not see negative consequences from displacement of traffic.
“You’ve got to do it in a considered, careful way, and so that’s what we hope we’re doing here,” he added.
Oxford Street's pedestrianisation is due to tie in with the arrival of the Elizabeth Line, which is expected to bring a surge in passengers – and visitors to Oxford Street.
Khan said the changes will be carried out in three stages and reiterated comments made by Westminster City council's deputy leader Robert Davis that "doing nothing is not an option".
The mayor pointed to "increased congestion, we see air around this part of London that's a killer, that's making people sick" as reasons why Oxford Street's pedestrianisation is necessary.
He also, though pointed to business concerns.
"We're seeing businesses here worried about their customers leaving them, not simply to shop on the internet, but going to shopping malls where it's comfortable to shop," Khan told City A.M.. "What's encouraging about the announcement today is the partnership approach between businesses big and small, residents, visitors and stakeholders, making sure we make Oxford Street fit for purpose for the 21st century."
The timescale of Oxford Street's transformation: