Plans to create temporary plazas on either side of Oxford Circus in time for Christmas have been delayed by Westminster Council. The council says that in light of consultations with local residents, they will delay the temporary plazas, which were to be used as a pilot for a permanent scheme to be delivered later.

The plans had been to seal off the short stretches of Oxford Street on either side of Oxford Circus to create the pedestrian zone and test how that works, before then embarking on refurbishing the area permanently into a pedestrian space.

Image credit: Publica

It seems that local residents, who strongly objected to plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street a few years ago, also objected to these much more modest plans, so the council is going to carry out more consultations.

In a statement, Cllr Matthew Green, Cabinet Member for Business, Licensing and Planning said that they will shortly share the engagement and consultation approach and timetable, but that the council has decided that it’s better to move forward with a focus on permanent schemes.

While there may be a pedestrianised zone around Oxford Circus in the future, it certainly won’t be happening this year. The delay also means that diversions of buses that would have been needed later this year now won’t be happening.

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17 comments
  1. Ramon Prasad says:

    How come all other large cities in the UK have not only rationalised the traffic planning for their central shopping zones, but also provided a tram system which takes pedestrians safely from one shopping hub to another?

    The only answer to this oxymoron is that the planning authorities in London have set their face against what the shoppers plainly want, and have instead been trying, and failing, to install their own madcap schemes on the shopping public

  2. MK says:

    Residents? Around Oxford Circus? What? Where? Do they mean the Crown?

    • ianVisits says:

      There’s a lot of housing on the streets around the area.

    • Milton C says:

      I agree. Around Oxford Circus isn’t like Wood Green or Ealing Common. And if you live within a 1/2 mile radius of one of the most central shopping and commercial districts in the country, you have to accept the neighborhood. Oxford Stn and Circus have been there for 100+ years. It’s like moving to Hatton Cross and complaining about aircraft noise. IanVisits says there’s lots of housing. Disagree. Pockets but nothing like suburbia.

  3. Brian Armitage says:

    This is Westminster Council. Are we surprised?

  4. Tony Mansell says:

    Build another hill maybe ?

  5. MilesT says:

    My view is if there is any serious plan to pedestrianise a chunk of Oxford street, then there needs to be a compelling solution to allow people with impaired mobility to access the normal customer access routes to the front of the shup with minimal walking from longer distance transport (of whatever sort).

    No “special access” from the back of the shop on other streets (not all shops can do this, so it would be unfair on the some shops and also on people with restricted mobility).

    This is part of why plans keep failing. Maybe some sort of free short distance trolley/buggy service from drop off/interchange points during core retail hours (ideally not devolved down to the NWEC BID).

    Also, there needs to be consideration of how to discourage snatch thefts enabled by two wheel vehicles in the pedestrianised area (which is also unlawful). This is less possible generally with the way the street is currently structured.

    • ianVisits says:

      As vehicles already can’t stop in the locations that were to be pedestrianised, there is no loss of access for people with mobility needs.

  6. Raj says:

    Visitor numbers to central London are falling dramatically partly due to all these restrictions. As a result many businesses are struggling to survive. The Council can make the pavements bigger, but what’s the point if people stop visiting as it’s a hassle and shops shut down as it’s uneconomical? Better to shop in the retail parks!

  7. Brian Armitage says:

    Time and time again businesses (I note it’s “residents” in this case) trot out the argument that less car traffic will mean less commerce takes place. Time and time again it has been shown to be the opposite in places where such measures have been implemented.

  8. Chris Rogers says:

    A frustrating saga, which one would no doubt need to get into the detail and the papers to really unravel. Personally I think it needs big decisions about reducing traffic flow generally without worrying too much about where it will end up – make it hard enough to drive in the area and people won’t. Incidentally, there is a staff car park inside the west facade of John Lewis – several floors, served by car lift. Not many people know that…

    • George Lennox says:

      Sounds cool. You mean from Old Cavendish St, where the delivery bays are. I guess they are in the sub-sub-basement level? Would be fun to explore.

  9. Tom says:

    As a teenager living in the suburbs, Oxford Street and the surrounding area was a real destination for clothing, shoes and the big HMV. All we really had locally was a Burton’s and a Topman.

    The traffic and shear density of people on the pavements was part of the experience that made it feel so different to our local high street. When you left the tube station, you really felt like you had arrived somewhere.

    However, as an adult, I’ve clearly become more uptight about personal space, noise and pollution, and I rarely go to Oxford Street. I do still visit central London locations that I find more pleasant – so the pedestrianisation seems like a no-brainer to me.

    I’m not a resident in that area though and I find it deeply annoying when my own local authority runs consultations on divisive issues and then ignores the majority of opinions (as seems to be happening at the moment with plans to build on the green-belt). So, although I strongly disagree with the residents of Westminster, I think their opinions should be listened to.

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