Oxford Street businesses are up in arms over the road's planned pedestrianisation

Lucy White
Oxford Street attracts crowds of shoppers over the Christmas period (Source: Getty)

Thought that businesses and residents would be happy about the plan to turn Oxford Street into a car-free zone? Apparently not, as groups in the area have launched a protest against the mooted pedestrianisation.

Banning cars and buses from the infamous shopping district will lead to more pollution and gridlocked local roads, according to local amenity group representative Better Oxford Street (BOS).

Added to that, residents fear that the long stretch of empty road will be a magnet for gangs at night.

Read more: Revealed: Mayor's plans to pedestrianise London's Oxford Street next year

"This scheme is not wanted by residents or businesses. According to Transport for London's own figures, of those that responded to the last consultation, 60 per cent of businesses opposed the proposals with a further 16 per cent concerned about them – that is 76 per cent of businesses in total with 66 per cent of local residents are either opposed to it or are concerned by it," said a spokesperson for BOS.

The mayor is not a dictator, but is behaving like one and trying to force this dreadful scheme through for purely political reasons to benefit himself and against the will of those in the area.

Without Oxford Street being open to vehicles, BOS is warning that buses will have to be rerouted around local streets – clogging up routes and making the area more dangerous for pedestrians.

Other bus routes will be axed, it claims, making Oxford Street less accessible for the disabled.

Read more: London mayor Sadiq Khan says wider pedestrianisation could be on the cards once Oxford Street goes traffic-free

"Whilst the principles of making better public space on Oxford Street are laudable, the proposals as designed and the phasing of transformation show a blatant disregard for the areas immediately surrounding the district – most notably at the western end of Oxford Street and its gateway to Marble Arch and Edgware Road," said Kate Buxton, chief executive of business group Marble Arch Partnership.

Meanwhile Mark Field, the Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said that pedestrianising Oxford Street would "shift the problems caused by heavy traffic elsewhere".

But other groups are disputing BOS's statement that the majority of businesses are against pedestrianising Oxford Street.

The New West End Company, which represents 600 retail, restaurant and property owners including names such as John Lewis, is supportive of the traffic ban.

"The proposed transformation of the Oxford Street district is not opposed by the majority of local businesses. West End businesses in our district support transformation and a recent survey of our members showed 82 per cent support proposals for change," said the group's chief executive Jace Tyrrell.

"With 60 million new visits to the West End predicted every year once the Elizabeth Line opens there is no 'do nothing' option."

City Hall hits back

The deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross has also disputed the claims made by BOS.

"In addition to substantially reducing the number of buses in the wider area, we’ll be investing in new pedestrian crossings, wider pavements and new lighting, ensuring we improve quality of life for everyone," said Shawcross.

"Whether you’re a resident, a business or one of the millions of visitors to the area, our proposals will improve air quality, increase safety and create one the finest public spaces in the world."

The Mayor's Office has also said that 62 per cent of people who responded to its Oxford Street consultation supported the principles behind the transformation.

Read more: Oxford Street pedestrianisation consultation pushed back into next year

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