Wednesday 26 September 2018 4:02 pm

Westminster and City Hall in tense standoff after council misses Sadiq Khan’s deadline for new Oxford Street plans


  Westminster City Council has said it will not meet Sadiq Khan's deadline for submitting its alternative plans for Oxford Street this month, in a move that risks further heightening tensions with City Hall over the abandoned project.

The Conservative-led council was working closely with Transport for London (TfL) and City Hall on the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street before it pulled the plug this summer on the grounds that residents objected to the plans.

Khan, who counted the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street as one of his flagship proposals, said Westminster's decision was a "betrayal of millions of Londoners".

Westminster council leader Nickie Aiken said she "utterly rejected suggestions of a betrayal". 

Read more: Sadiq Khan calls for rail re-nationalisation in wake of timetable chaos

The council then said it would finalise its alternative plans for the street, a "place-based strategy", by September to October. Khan said he expected the council to submit an update on the district-wide scheme by September.

A Westminster source told City A.M. September was the "mayor's deadline" and the council "sticks to our own timeline".

Relations between Westminster and City Hall are at an all-time low after the council also took TfL to court over the CS11 cycle superhighway between Swiss Cottage and Oxford Circus, prompting accusations from Khan that Westminster was "anti-walking" and "anti-cycling" and that its opposition to his plans was political.

A spokesperson for Khan said: “When Westminster announced their decision, the mayor said it was a betrayal of the millions of Londoners and visitors who would have benefited from making Oxford Street a safer, healthier and better environment.

“Given the public money already invested and the extensive consultation carried out over two years, there is simply no excuse for the council not presenting their alternative plans without further delay.

“As the mayor has made clear, these plans cannot shy away from addressing the major challenges of tackling air pollution and dealing with the serious overcrowding issues that will only be exacerbated over the coming weeks and months. For the future of Oxford Street, the status quo isn’t an option.”

Richard Beddoe, Westminster's cabinet member for place shaping and planning, said: “There is a necessity to vastly enhance the overall experience for residents, workers and those visiting the Oxford Street district and our fresh scheme will improve the area as a global, iconic destination that retains its status as the nation’s high street with thriving local neighbourhoods.

"In July we set out a clear timetable to develop our fresh strategy and delivery plan for the area, that involved spending the summer looking at the previous consultation responses to inform our new plans that we are now finalising ahead of a public consultation scheduled for November. I am pleased to say we are right on track to deliver to this timetable and we look forward to working with all partners who can help to deliver our ambitious vision.”

Read more: Sadiq Khan launches extension to CS6 cycle route