After the controversial decision to put the brakes on Oxford Street pedestrianisation plans indefinitely, Westminster City Council will meet to discuss its alternative plans for the London shopping hotspot next week.
The council's cabinet will meet on Monday 9 July to consider a report setting out the next steps for transforming the Oxford Street district.
It is looking to plug £727,000 – made up of a reallocation of £327,000 of the council's own revenue, and £400,000 from the local implementation plan allocation – into the pedestrianisation alternative.
Last month, the council ditched the previously proposed full-scale pedestrianisation after two public consultations, saying it was clear that Westminster residents did not back the proposals, with concerns raised over accessibility to and from the area.
London mayor Sadiq Khan hit out at the obstruction, calling it "a betrayal of the millions of Londoners and visitors to our city". Westminster Council however, has said it is "sticking up for the people who know best".
Elizabeth Line crowding concerns
One of the main concerns raised by City groups over the traffic-free proposals being taken off the table was the level of crowding expected with the launch of the Elizabeth Line – currently scheduled for early December.
Westminster City Council is now reviewing safety interventions needed ahead of the stations opening at Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street, with Transport for London forecasts expecting passenger numbers at the two stations to rise by 37 per cent and 17 per cent respectively – and up 81 per cent and 57 per cent by 2021.
It is compiling a report outlining the investment needed to undertake safety works before the opening of the Elizabeth Line. But with time tight to get works underway ahead of the new railway's launch, the council said development and design of the safety scheme will take place until August, with works carried out from September to October.
The original idea was to create traffic-free space in central London in time for the full launch of Elizabeth Line services, with buses and black cabs among other forms of transport getting banished. East-west traffic was going to be restricted from entering Oxford Street between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus by December 2018.
Timeline for Oxford Street pedestrianisation alternative:
|1. Comprehensive audit and engagement with residents and stakeholders to establish issues, priorities and vision||July to August 2018|
|2. The production of a "place-based strategy" to inform the development of preferred solutions for the district||September to October 2018|
|3. Public consultation||November 2018|
|4. Adoption of the Oxford Street district place strategy and delivery plan||January 2019|
Cllr Richard Beddoe, cabinet member for place shaping and planning, said:
I would like to reiterate our absolute commitment to bringing forward ambitious plans that will improve and future-proof Oxford Street and surrounding district for many generations to come.
There is a necessity to vastly enhance the overall experience for residents, workers and those visiting the district and this will be the focus of the new project.
We want a district-wide solution that will ensure Oxford Street retains its status as the nation’s high street in a rapidly evolving retail environment and is renowned as a must visit destination by visitors from London, the UK and overseas and is a place where distinct neighbourhoods continue to thrive.