Westminster council has written to community groups in the neighbourhoods surrounding Oxford Street to announce that “completely new proposals” will be drawn up after the summer but that pedestrianisation is “off the table for good”.
In a letter signed by leader Nickie Aiken and cabinet member Richard Beddoe they say there is a very clear democratic mandate not to proceed with pedestrianisation plans.
However, Aiken and Beddoe say that most residents want improvements to road safety, cleaner air, and that there needs to be changes made to accommodate pedestrian movements around the Crossrail stations when trains start running on the Elizabeth line later this year.
The councillors stress their commitment to continue to work with the Mayor of London because “many of the ways air quality can be improved are within his gift”.
“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,” they said.
Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM responded to the Westminster council’s announcement saying:
“The Committee believes the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street could transform the area for the better, but it must be done carefully, taking into account the needs of residents, people with disabilities and cyclists.
“It was encouraging to hear Westminster Council say ‘doing nothing to improve the area is not an option either, if we are to maximise the potential benefits from the opening of the Elizabeth Line’. This shows that the door is not shut.
“The Mayor needs to negotiate a solution for all.
“Any changes to Oxford Street will affect a vast number of Londoners and visitors, so we must get it right. Traffic and air quality, provision of a safe cycle route, management of the public space and accessibility all need careful consideration,” she said.
Residents groups are united in calling for Westminster council and the Mayor of London to tackle air pollution and congestion over a much wider area.
Many residents favour a form of traffic management where through motor traffic is kept out of smaller streets and limited to main roads, and street design to enable more walking and cycling such as the Marylebone Low Emission Neighbourhood.
The Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum wants improvements for walking and cycling, while others are interested in the Mini-Holland concept advocated by the London Cycling Campaign.