Plans to improve Oxford Street have been approved by Westminster Council, with work likely to start late next year.
However, the plans are only partially funded and subject to funding coming from local businesses. The council has approved an initial £7.7 million of the estimated £50 million cost and will be looking for up to £25 million from the businesses in the area.
The plans will not see the street pedestrianised, as that long talked about intention has as equally often been cancelled. However, they will be improving the pavements and road junctions for pedestrians, and Oxford Circus will be redesigned.
Along the street, there will be wider pedestrian crossings, longer green signals for pedestrian crossings and more frequent formal crossing points. This is aimed at reducing complaints that Oxford Street is too busy and overcrowded. There’s a recognition in the council report that the pavements are cluttered by street furniture in the wrong places and other obstacles.
Some of the concept images also show fewer sheds on the pavements that are rented by people selling anything from fruit to tourist tat.
There’s also a suggestion in the council papers that they will look to increase the night-time economy along Oxford Street, which is pretty quiet once the main shops close, leaving just the music blaring out of the perpetually empty candy stores for activity.
At Oxford Circus, the council proposes to redesign the junction to remove turns between Regent Street and Oxford Street — so ahead traffic only — and to widen the pavements, so pedestrians spend less time crossing the junction. That in turn should speed up road traffic as the pedestrian crossing times can be reduced a bit.
Three additional complementary schemes were also identified at James Street, Davies Street and Grosvenor Square, but are subject to separate funding agreements with relevant third parties.
Westminster City Council and the New West End Company (NWEC) have also signed an agreement to work together on the project.
Construction work is expected to start in the Autumn of 2024.
Cllr Geoff Barraclough, Westminster City Council’s (WCC) Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development, said: “After years of abandoned schemes, we are now about to finally get under way with a deliverable plan to breathe new life into Oxford Street. With the support of our partners at NWEC, we now have a coalition of the council, retailers, landowners, and others in place to develop a practical but also ambitious plan.”