The shopping heart of London will soon have fewer shops, after the local trade group announced plans for a large-scale revamp of the area. After Westminster Council unexpectedly pulled the plug on plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street, replacement plans have been worked on, and now the local trade group has now announced a £2.9 billion revamp of the area.

The biggest change will be in shopping, as the area adapts to more people, but fewer shoppers – thanks to the rise of online shopping. So an area famous for its shops could end up with fewer shops.

A very empty Oxford Street

The New West End Company, the trade group that represents Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street businesses, says that it is working with the Mayor of London and Westminster Council to change the planning requirement for the area to have ground floors of buildings that are wall-to-wall shops, and allow a wider mix of building uses.

They’re expecting anything from showrooms to cultural spaces, food and leisure activities, to community events and evening attractions.

This is a reflection of the reality that while the area is expecting to see an additional 60 million visits per year following the opening of the Elizabeth line, fewer of those visitors will be visiting for the shops alone.

Shoppers want “experiences” rather than pile-em-high shopping, so struggling high streets have been adapting, and apart from the planning changes, the New West End Company has announced that £2.9 billion will be invested within a one mile radius of Oxford Street by 2022. The proposals include £1 billion being invested in new developments and refurbishments on Oxford Street alone.

The expenditure is part of a £250 million upgrade that’s already underway, with £150 million from Westminster Council for the streetscape with two new proposed public piazzas at Oxford Circus and Marble Arch.

The proposals will see the equivalent of two Trafalgar Squares in pedestrian space added, with wider pavements and — if that’s even possible with the road congestion — slower road speeds.

The trade group is also lobbying government to alter Sunday trading hours to allow shops to stay open until 8pm on Sundays.

All these changes will be dependent on the Mayor of London signing an agreement, expected at the end of next year to designate the area as an “International Centre” to amend the current planning regulations.

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4 comments on “Fewer shops on Oxford Street in £3 billion revamp
  1. Melvyn says:

    Oxford Street has gone from a wall of buses one where catching buses often involves long walks to find the bus stop one wants!

    While bus routes like the formally hugely important route 25 have been removed by Mayor Khan in expectation of Elizabeth Line opening last The removal of routes like the 25 now make it impossible for some disabled users to easily access Oxford Street and so Westfield in Stratford has benefitted!

    Frankly Pedestrianisation might work for the young and fit but not for disabled and elderly and I reckon greater efforts should be put into closing off side streets and creating taxi ranks in other side streets to reduce the number of empty taxis plying for hire . And remove the pedicabs!

    With Bond Street and TCR Stations now fully accessible its time to deal with Oxford Circus and Marble Arch Stations . Hopefully, this will be considered if any major property development occurs at these stations.

    • HHGeek says:

      I never understood how pedestrianisation would work for anyone who wasn’t fit & able-bodied, didn’t know the layout of the shops, or was carrying heavy shopping. The reduction of the 15 route has had a similar impact to the 25 – it’s almost as if any bus users living in the East End aren’t allowed into the West End any more. For the son of a bus driver, Khan’s presided over an awful lot of limitations in services. It’s really frustrating. The convenience of bus stops heavily outweighs the speed of the tube a lot of the time.

  2. MilesT says:

    I foresee pedestrianisation will lead to an increase in snatch and grab street robberies enabled by mopeds, bikes, and other kinds of wheels. And general issues with wheeled transport abusing pedestrianisation, putting pedestrians at risk and to fear. I put this in as a comment rejecting previous schemes (along with concerns about disabled access, although that could be addressed to an extent with a “road train” low speed electric shuttle running up and down the street to cover the last mile from car dropoff)

    The presence of kerbing and clustering of people on pavements limits this (physically and by “herding”)

  3. MilesT says:

    And this article (prompted by londonreconnections) is also relevant
    https://www.curbed.com/2019/9/30/20885226/best-pedestrian-mall-design

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