Spades hit the ground on greener Oxford Street

10 Mar 2021
An image of planned changes on Oxford Street

Today Westminster City Council has kicked off its ambitious reinvention of the nation’s high street.

  • Westminster City Council kicks off year of delivery on £150m Oxford Street plans
  • Oxford Street going green with pocket parks, trees and new furniture
  • Temporary interventions to encourage visitors back to the West End after pandemic “hammer blow”
  •  Spades in the ground four weeks after Framework Launch in February
An image of planned changes along Oxford Street

Work is underway on measures which will make more space for people, add trees and greenery, introduce seating and cycle parking and create pocket parks throughout the Oxford Street District.

The temporary measures, which are due to be completed by late Spring 2021, will create a welcoming and safe environment for residents, workers and visitors when lockdown restrictions are eased, helping retailers, restaurants, cafes and other businesses in the area to bounce back.

The initial project will transform the look and feel of Oxford Street and improve air quality – creating a cleaner, greener modern high street with:

  • 25 new mature trees – an increase of 40 per cent 
  • over 1,500 new plants from 65 different species
  • 55 new seating areas – double the current number of benches

The first phase of work, which will be in place for a period of 18 months, will also see bus bays consolidated to make space for pocket parks complete with play areas and lighting installations.

These are just the first in a series of Council led projects repositioning Oxford Street as the centre of a world leading retail and leisure district and boosting confidence in the West End.

Cllr Rachael Robathan, Leader of Westminster City Council at Oxford Street

Cllr Rachael Robathan, Leader of Westminster City Council, said:

“The pandemic has been a hammer blow for retailers and Oxford Street has suffered as much or more than any other high street in the country.

Today is significant because work is underway. It is critical that we act urgently to restore confidence in the nation’s favourite shopping district.  

These initial measures, which should be completed in time for summer, will literally pave the way for an economic recovery. They will create a new visitor-friendly environment and reinforce the area as one of the best places in the world to live, work, shop and visit.

This is just the start. Our Oxford Street District Framework lays out a plan for the successful long-term future for the nation’s high street, as the greenest, smartest, most sustainable district of its kind anywhere in the world.”

Last month the council launched its framework for the Oxford Street District, which will serve as the blueprint to reinvent the high street for a post pandemic recovery and, crucially, for the longer term. It reimagines the nation’s favourite high street through the following themes; GREENER, SMARTER, FUTURE and TOGETHER to create a globally competitive centre for innovative retail, commercial activities, culture and living. 

Recognised worldwide as a leading shopping destination and attracting around 200 million visitors in a normal year, Westminster City Council is leading a coalition of partners to reinvent the area and deliver further improvement projects. At the heart of the plans is a strong focus on economic recovery and adaptation – ensuring businesses and communities have the best possible conditions to safely reopen.

Karen Lord, Head of Branch at John Lewis Oxford Street said:

“We welcome the much needed improvement to the public space on Oxford Street which will both prepare for the opening of Crossrail and help encourage shoppers and visitors to come back to the West End.”

James Raynor, CEO, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, said:

“The reinvention of the Oxford Street District shows what is possible when forward thinking public and private sector partners come together. Today is just a taster of a progressive investment programme that will not only encourage back office workers and visitors, but also support retailers, restauranteurs and residents for the long term.”

For more information see the Temporary Public Realm Improvement Scheme project page.