17th October Press Release
Westminster publishes ambitious proposals to secure a successful future for the nation’s high street and surrounding district
Westminster City Council has unveiled its ambitious plans to future proof the Oxford Street District so that it will lead the way in reinventing the concept of the successful high street amidst thriving residential neighbourhoods in order that it remains the economic powerhouse of the capital and jewel in the West End crown.
The Council’s fresh Place Strategy and Delivery Plan has identified 94 projects across 85 different streets in nine zones, including proposals for major improvements at Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and Cavendish Square. It has looked in depth at every street in order to understand what makes the place so special and what needs to be done to enhance the heritage and character that makes the district unique and gives it the edge as a `must visit’ destination over domestic and international rivals.
As a result, the city council is planning on setting aside £50 million each year for the next three years in order to provide a massive kick start to turn the strategy into reality and is calling on private and public partners to back the improvements. A draft of the detailed Place Strategy, which has been developed over the summer following rounds of discussion with 50 stakeholder groups, including residents, businesses, workers in the district, young people and special interest groups, will now be considered by the Council’s Cabinet when it meets on 25th October ahead of the expected launch of the final document for formal public consultation from 6thNovember to 16th December 2018.
It is vital to invest in the success of the District as it is the social, cultural and economic powerhouse of the capital and the country. Some key statistics for the area include:
- Six hundred thousand people visit Oxford Street every day, with 30% from overseas
- It is one of the largest job markets in London, with 155,000 people employed in the district. 49% of those are in professional services and 24% in retail.
- Annual retails sales on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street total an incredible £9bn.
- The two West End Elizabeth Line stations are projected to bring an additional 60 million people annually from 2020; increasing the 200 million annual visits to the District by a third.
The top ten proposals in the strategy include:
- Prioritise pedestrians by massively increasing walking space throughout the whole district whilst retaining two-way vehicle movement along the length of Oxford Street. It’s proposed to create the equivalent of two Trafalgar Squares of additional pedestrian space amidst beautiful new public spaces.
- Major improvements are proposed at key locations, including a new public piazza style space at Oxford Circus and a reinvigorated gateway to the West End at Marble Arch.
- Work towards a future where all commercial vehicles that are not zero emission are banned and introduce a 20mph limit across the district
- Retain buses on Oxford Street 24 hours a day and ensure they are zero emission.
- Enable space on higher floors on Oxford Street to have different and diverse uses to bring new life and vibrancy to the district
- Celebrate and revitalise the historic garden squares in the District by maximising pedestrian space and connections from Oxford Street
- Deliver an ambitious greening programme for the whole district, including side streets, by providing many new street trees, pop up parks and oases for relaxation, rest or play
- Encourage cycling by retaining access for cyclists to Oxford Street and develop proposals for new cycling routes across the district with two new east–west cycle routes, to the north and south of Oxford Street as well as providing a number of key north-south connections across the district and more cycle parking.
- Improve shopfronts and exteriors, provide special lighting and promote world class architecture throughout the district, celebrating the eclectic mix of heritage and styles
- Encourage a year round programme of amazing cultural events and activities, in collaboration with local, national institutions and retailers, including celebrating cultural events
Through ongoing engagement with residents, businesses and visitors, it is clear that an effective and funded maintenance and management plan will be required to ensure that the District remains a key destination once the improvement works get underway. This plan will tackle issues such as supporting rough sleepers, closely working with the police and pooling council resources regarding anti-social behaviour. It will also cover street cleaning, repairs and city wide policies on busking and redouble efforts to seek support for the changes in law to regulate pedicabs.
Cllr Richard Beddoe, Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning, said: “No other major city in the world has sought to refresh and revitalise a whole district in such a comprehensive and ambitious fashion.
“In developing this strategy we have listened carefully to those who know best – those who live, work, visit and do business in the area that has helped shape our deep understanding of what makes the place so special and what we should do to enhance the area.
“We are all well aware of the challenges the district faces and we want to bring all the available public and private resources to bear to tackle them head on and future proof the district’s ongoing success which is vital for Westminster and London. This strategy and the significant funding we have set aside is the enabler to make this happen.”