You can read our Oxford Street Consultation response here.
Westminster’s Council Cabinet met on the 26th October and gave the go-ahead to the Cabinet Report recommendations- to develop what is termed a, “Place Strategy,” for the whole of the Oxford Street area.
This strategy promotes a set of fifteen, “overarching place based principles”, to be presented to stakeholders and residents as part of a public consultation process between 6th November and 16th December.
The Council’s Cabinet Paper Report can be found on the Westminster Council website From this we can summarise the main principles of the scheme:
A new website has been launched at https://osd.london which provides details of the proposals for the Oxford Street District. It will also provide updates and details of the consultation and how to subscribe to the regular newsletter.
The proposals have been informed, not only by the responses from the initial joint TfL/WCC consultation but from a series of engagement meetings with over fifty stakeholders including residents held between July and September.
It is clear that the Council has listened and acted on what these groups have said. They will look at ways of reusing surplus retail space and redeveloping it to suit the needs of an evolving economy. The importance is now clearly understood of protecting the neighbourhoods around Oxford Street: Fitzrovia, Marylebone, Mayfair and Soho. The majority of the proposals appear well thought out and sensible, embracing and complementing these neighbourhoods, not subordinating them, as previously, to the perceived benefit of one street.
Of course, all this comes at a price – £2.5 million for the development of the proposals and a projected £150 million for the whole scheme. This is a very significant sum, showing a serious commitment to the area. Indeed, it is on a par with the total expenditure that TfL and the Mayor were previously contemplating for their scheme. It is anticipated that this level of funding will require substantial contributions from external sources in addition to Westminster’s capital budget. However, in the papers we have seen, these sources have not as yet been formally identified.
In summary, we now have a pragmatic and evolving scheme which offers a holistic approach across the district, one which acknowledges local priorities from Marble Arch through Oxford Circus to Tottenham Court Road. It addresses key issues notably lacking in the previous proposals: district-wide improvements, enhancement of the neighbouring areas and an emphasis on access to and from Oxford Street. There are still concerns over future accessibility arising from the extensive proposed cuts to the buses and bus routes running to and through Oxford Street. This, however, remains in the hands of TfL and as such is not part of the consultation.
There is still also the concern that the Mayor, and certain elements in the Greater London Authority, will pursue the pedestrianisation agenda by some other means- such as attempting to take over control of Oxford Street. To do this would ignore the democratic mandate obtained from the council elections, and the popular endorsement subsequently confirmed from the extensive consultation. This would be a retrograde step and most inadvisable.
We are, though, in a far better place than we could have hoped for this time last year at the opening of the first Oxford Street Consultation. Then, on the roof garden at John Lewis, the Mayor addressed us all on a project to pedestrianise Oxford Street and he clearly saw the consultation as merely a formality prior to its endorsement. That scheme was however unworthy of the district it claimed to serve, a message that the residents sent out loud and clear to the Council by various means, both prior to, and during the elections. The Council listened and as a result, it has now been unceremoniously dumped. In its place, we have a series of sensible and pragmatic proposals which will benefit, not only Oxford Street but the whole West End area, its residents and the businesses within it. In this new scheme, Westminster Council has the support of all the West End amenity societies.
In summary, we feel that the Council are now actively attending to the concerns of residents and businesses. They have stood up for them and scuppered a scheme which was not wanted by those who live and work in the West End. We have seen the congestion and displaced traffic that has resulted from various TfL schemes in other parts of London, in spite of their claims to the contrary beforehand. We have seen how, once TfL launch a consultation, the desired outcome is usually a foregone conclusion. This time, however, the outcome has been different. This time the consultation responses were heeded and the Council’s subsequent uncompromising stance against the Mayor’s unwanted scheme finally saw it off.
The action taken in defence of the area and its residents by Westminster Council is to be applauded. It shows that it is possible to stand up to TfL, who are unelected and accountable to no one – save the Mayor. It is an example of democracy in action and as such sets a notable precedent.
Sadiq Khan’s letter to Cllr Nickie Aiken
Click here Cllr Nickie Aiken letter Jul 18
Our views on this will follow shortly…
The Future of Oxford Street
I am writing to update you about our plans to improve Oxford Street and the surrounding district.
As you know, two consultations have taken place in the past twelve months and after listening carefully to what local people have told us, we can now make Westminster City Council’s position absolutely clear.
What is very apparent is that the majority of Westminster residents who responded to the consultations did not support the proposals to pedestrianise Oxford Street. We also know that in the recent council elections, local people also essentially rejected pedestrianisation through the ballot box. Therefore, we believe there is a very strong democratic mandate that the pedestrianisation scheme that was under consideration is not what local people want. As a result, Westminster City Council has taken the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street off the table for good and we have informed the Mayor and TfL of our decision.
However, we do think that most people, ourselves included, feel that doing nothing is also not an option. We need to make the street and surrounding roads safer for everyone to accommodate the increase in people coming into the West End via the Elizabeth Line, which opens later this year. We also need to future-proof the Oxford Street District in a rapidly changing business and retail environment. We need to make sure that the experience of visiting Oxford Street and the surrounding area is fit for the future to ensure it maintains its crown as the nation’s high street for many, many years to come. Today’s news that House of Fraser will be closing their Oxford Street store only reaffirms our view that we have to help the retail industry to grow and evolve in line with changing consumer behaviour.
In doing this, we must also ensure that residents’ quality of life is enhanced with any improvement plans, with local amenity and cleaner air the absolute priority. For example, we want to continue to work with the Mayor of London, as many of the ways air quality can be improved are within his gift, such as the reduction in buses and introducing cleaner taxis. We will also ensure that the street and surrounding district is accessible and easy to navigate for everyone.
Moving forward, the council will now work on completely new proposals and come back to you after the summer break with some thoughts as to how we can proceed with improving the Oxford Street District. We also give you our absolute commitment that we will keep you informed at every stage and try to engage with as many people as possible throughout this process.
Only by working together can we help to ensure that we deliver a transformation of Oxford Street and surrounding district that is as inspiring for those who live, work and visit the area now as well as for future generations.
If you would like to be kept up to date with future Oxford Street updates could you please e-mail email@example.com to register your email address. If you have any questions please also direct them to Robin.
CLLR NICKIE AIKEN Leader of the Council
It’s one of the mayor’s election pledges to pedestrianise London’s Oxford Street.
It is not a pleasant shopping environment.
It’s full of buses and taxis and as a result of the high buildings, pollution doesn’t disperse from the street.
It also has a high level of pedestrian collisions.
Now though, the scheme to pedestrianise Oxford Street is in trouble.
The problem for London Mayor Sadiq Khan is that the road is owned by Westminster City Council.
There has been considerable opposition to the plans from local residents and businesses.
Such was the clamour that prior to the recent local council elections, Westminster City Council shifted its policy away from broadly supporting the scheme to calling the present plans “unacceptable”.
The council has now confirmed it does not think full pedestrianisation is the answer. The plans are going to have to change.
Council leader Nickie Aiken said: “No change on Oxford Street is not an option. However, having reviewed the recent consultation we are persuaded that full pedestrianisation is not the best solution.
“We will make no formal decisions on the future of Oxford Street until all potential options have been fully considered and we have a solution that meets our eight pledges.”
Those pledges mean any plan will have to reduce pollution and prevent traffic going onto residential roads. That could be very difficult to achieve.
The Campaign Against Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street (CAPO) – who caused the shift in the council’s policy – think the project is in serious trouble.
Parts of it were due to be finished by the end of the year. They think that is impossible.
And at the moment it looks like there isn’t a plan at all and it is back to the drawing board.
This project has been talked about for decades and it always hits problems.
The mayor remains optimistic it will happen.
But without consensus from Westminster, a huge cloud hangs over the scheme.
WESTMINSTER Council has shown common sense at last in rejecting the Mayor of London’s and Transport for London’s extreme plan to pedestrianise Oxford Street and disenfranchise residents and regular commuters.
This was both a vanity exercise by the Mayor as well as a cost-cutting one, in which he intended to further cut bus numbers, close down routes, and shorten other routes. Our side streets and attractive squares would have become “bus stands”.
Westminster Council now needs to follow up on its “pledges” of better traffic control and pollution in Oxford Street as well as removing pedicabs, noisy buskers and beggars.
Pedestrianisation is not a social benefit. It would turn the residential street into a tourist walkway and disenfranchise many locals and regular commuters.
With the expediential growth of souvenir shops selling fridge magnets and flags, Oxford Street is looking less and less like an “international shopping destination” and more and more like an austerity-damaged high street.
Change is needed but concreting it over with a few benches and garden centre trees is not the answer.
by ETHAN POD
Oxford Street campaigners urge council: ‘Don’t forget promises’
WestEnd Extra – 11 May, 2018 — By Tom Foot
CANDIDATES for the Campaign Against Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street single-issue party said this week that the electorate had sent a message to Westminster Council Conservatives “not to forget their promises”.
It said that winning seats was “never the primary reason” for setting up the party and that it had “achieved its goal before the first vote was cast”.
Days before the count, the outgoing councillor Danny Astaire told full council that officers had been told to stop working on design work with the Mayor of London and implied that the council was now opposing the plan.
This week, the anti-pedestrianisation campaigners said: “No matter how much pressure the new council may be brought under to again change their minds on Oxford Street, they must stay firm. They own the road, they have said, ‘No’ and they must now be fully aware that their mandate was achieved through the election promises they made and that these promises must be honoured.”
However, council leader Nickie Aiken yesterday (Thursday) did not seem so committal.
When asked whether the council supported the Mayor of London’s Oxford Street plan, she told the Extra “there is no plan”, adding: “The people in the area have spoken. We are at the table so that we ensure their concerns are addressed. There is an awful long way to go before any plan can be introduced. There’s no work going on at the moment anyway.
“We are waiting for Transport for London to come back – we have said they have got to address the concerns brought up by residents. We have eight red lines. We want to look at how we can improve Oxford Street and we want to look at alternatives that make Oxford Street a better place to walk down.”
“Tory U-turn on Oxford Street ahead of poll – Conservatives order officials to stop work on pedestrianisation project” WestEnd Extra 4 may 2018
Sadiq Khan “suffered an embarrassing defeat yesterday when it emerged that Conservative Councillors scuppered plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street after pressure from businesses and residents.” The Times 28th April 2018