Ambition

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Our ambition for the Oxford Street District

Westminster City Council is creating a long term and ambitious vision for the whole of the Oxford Street District that will strengthen its world renowned status as a great place to live, work and visit.

We will deliver a programme that will improve and enhance the district as a global destination with thriving residential neighbourhoods, acknowledged as the place to do business as well as offering an unrivalled visitor experience.

Within our coherent and district wide programme we will ensure that Oxford Street strengthens its reputation as the nation’s favourite high street. Our strategy will support our ambition and respond to the big challenges the district faces; from a rapidly evolving retail environment; to a place that must cater for greater numbers of people; to providing more attractions and for Oxford Street to be a better neighbour to its district. All of this is essential if the district is to remain relevant in the face of strong national and global competition.

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Our Key Points

Key Dates

Cabinet meeting

Westminster City Council approved business case. Westminster Council’s Cabinet has approved the business case and associated investment relating to the Oxford Street District. The accompanying papers for this meeting have been published on the council’s website and can be viewed here.

8th
Apr

Design and modelling

Design and modelling work for the Oxford Street District will take place in spring 2019. 

Spr
2019

Physical work begins

Physical work in the Oxford Street District is planned to begin in autumn 2019. 

Aut
2019

Key Challenges

Inadequate public realm 

Poor quality public realm and limited amenities mean that the current pedestrian environment is no longer adequate or pleasant for residents and visitors to the district and connections between the street and its surroundings are often unclear. A good pedestrian environment is crucial to the ease with which visitors, residents and workers move through and enjoy the Oxford Street District. 

Pedestrian congestion 

Pedestrians using Oxford Street and parts of the surrounding district experience high levels of congestion and discomfort during some periods of the day. The street environment is cluttered and in some places constrained. It is anticipated that the number of pedestrians in the Oxford Street District will increase overall as a result of the new Elizabeth Line stations, with some areas experiencing very significant growth in pedestrian movement. If not addressed, the issues of pedestrian over crowding within the Oxford Street district will become more acute and this may lead to impacts on pedestrian safety. 

 

Poor air quality 

Oxford Street and the surrounding district is one of the most polluted areas in the UK. The majority of harmful emissions are released from road traffic. The current levels of traffic congestion, quantity of freight movements during busy periods of the day and high volumes of polluting diesel vehicles need to be addressed by a holistic programme of measures. Conditions in the future can be greatly improved by reducing the amount of traffic and ensuring that the remaining vehicles adopt low emission technology as rapidly as possible across the entire district. 

Poor street environment blighted by an excessive number of vehicles 

The excessive number of vehicles moving around and through the district contributes to poor air quality, road safety issues, traffic congestion and limits the space that can be provided to pedestrians and the public realm, however the presence of stationary vehicles is also a challenge. The streets around Oxford Street are very heavily utilised by waiting and parked vehicles, detracting from the quality of the public realm. Many of the vehicles have an important purpose but the most convenient location for them to stop is often where it causes the greatest impact, blocking sight-lines, causing obstructions, making crossing movements more difficult and dangerous, and dominating the street environment.  

 

Poor road safety 

The issue of road safety is of critical concern for the Oxford Street District project. With the expected increase in pedestrians as a consequence of the Elizabeth Line, it is critical that the road safety issues on Oxford Street and throughout the district are addressed as part of the Oxford Street District project.  

Evolving retail trends and global competition 

In an age of online shopping, high street retail is increasingly moving away from traditional commerce, towards an approach that includes leisure, entertainment and experience. In addition, Oxford Street’s competitors –   both within London and further afield –   are providing attractive shopping destinations. Oxford Street should thrive as part of a diverse district, integrated into the wider West End, to build upon a unique mix of retail, workspace, homes, culture and leisure, delivering economic growth and responding to the rapid evolution of retail and working life. 

Key Principles for the District

01

Make the district inclusive, accessible and liveable

Such an intensively-used district at the heart of a World City needs to cater for the many varied users: for all who live in, work, visit and pass through the area at all times of the day and night. It is therefore an essential overarching principle that everyone will have easy access to beautiful, safe, clean, well-managed and enhanced civic amenities.

02

Improve air quality

Poor air quality is recognised as a significant issue across the district with vehicular traffic being the major contributor to emissions.

03

Improve safety

Improvements in safety will be fundamental to the perception – and experience – of the Oxford Street District as a place which is inclusive, liveable and welcoming and a pleasure to visit by day or by night.

04

Take immediate steps to address management

Feedback from stakeholders has highlighted a number of issues regarding the existing management of the district and has reinforced the need to have a collaborative approach to managing and keeping the district safe.

A comprehensive partnership management plan will be produced and implemented which will set out the arrangements for all aspects of safety and management within the district.

05

Prioritise pedestrians and value every space

The strategy recognises and prioritises walking as the primary form of movement within and across the district.

06

Make the district better for cycling

Westminster City Council supports the growth of cycling as an active, zero-emission mode of transport and is committed to make cycling across the borough practical, enjoyable and safe.

07

Support economic growth across the district and promote innovation and experimentation

Investment in the Oxford Street District is important to protect and develop the area as a major employment district and to catalyse the inward investment and improvements that will support its continued status as an international shopping street.

08

Design for flexibility

There is a finite amount of space to be shared between competing uses – a flexible approach should be used to create a design and management system that responds to the life of the district.

09

Build from existing and connect the whole district

The district is a remarkable place, with many existing assets and a history of creative thinking by landowners, neighbourhood forums, retailers and developers. The strategy sets out to enhance and build on the area’s existing qualities and harness its population’s enthusiasm, vision and expertise.

10

Create beautifully-designed streets, gateways and a diversity of public spaces across the district

This strategy seeks to unlock the full potential of the existing urban realm and its built fabric; to reveal, connect, and upgrade the environmental conditions, whilst respecting the distinctive character and identity of the local historic neighbourhoods, making well-connected and enhanced civic amenity for all users.

11

Take every opportunity to add additional trees and planting, creating new green spaces and revitalising the garden squares

Creating linked green spaces through the district will enhance biodiversity, increase local amenity, create valuable habitats for wildlife and improve the environment for all.

12

Enrich the cultural life & identity of the district

This strategy aims to celebrate and build on the district’s cultural and artistic assets whilst developing a programme of events which gives a reason to celebrate – and to visit – all through the year.

13

Diversify land use and extend the life of Oxford Street

Retail is changing and evolving. The economic vitality of Oxford Street will be strengthened by its ability to adapt and experiment and offer a range of attractions and ancillary, complementary uses that support the retail and commercial activities of the district.

14

Make Oxford Street spectacular

Oxford Street has a long tradition of celebration and spectacle. The aim is to celebrate the daily urban theatre of its existing retail and leisure uses whilst creating settings for events at every scale.

15

Embrace Oxford Street’s role as an important sustainable transport corridor for the West End

Oxford Street transports people and traffic within, to and from the West End, either to visit Oxford Street or the surrounding district. A balance must be struck between the clear need for an improved pedestrian environment and this important city function.

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A District-wide Programme

Oxford Street is recognised as a leading retail destination, visited by millions of people each year. The unique setting of this historic street, weaving through several distinctive and historic neighbourhoods, including Marylebone, Soho and Mayfair, that provides a character and vibrancy that cannot be matched anywhere else. However, it also faces some significant challenges.

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More information

If you want to keep up to date with our plans for the Oxford Street District and how you can get involved then please sign up to receive regular updates from us. You can also e-mail the team at oxfordst@westminster.gov.uk

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