Councillors seated on left and officers seated on right at Budget Scrutiny Task Group.
Cllr Paul Fisher (third from left) chairing Westminster City Council’s Budget Scrutiny Task Group. Photo: Westminster City Council webcast.

Westminster City Council is set to spend around £60million over the next three years to make Oxford Street “more exciting,” according to a budget meeting held on 17 January.

But the exact figure the council will spend on the shopping street is unknown after the new Labour administration tore up the Conservatives’ plan for the road.

The Conservatives had planned to spend £120m on Oxford Street and projects in the surrounding area as part of the Oxford Street District programme.

But an independent review was launched into the huge regeneration project last year after it was revealed the council spent over £6m, three times its budget, on the Marble Arch Mound in late 2021.

The Tories spent £35.7m on the overall Oxford Street project before the review was launched and former Camden Council CEO Mike Cooke is currently looking into what lessons can be learnt from the programme.

Westminster City Council also had to shelve plans to create two temporary pedestrian piazzas on either side of Oxford Circus.

Now the council is redrawing plans for the famous shopping street.

The council, which was run by the Conservatives for 58 years, was turned upside down when Labour took control for the first time in May 2022.

Labour’s plans for Oxford Street are in the design stage and details of what the road will look like are expected to be revealed in the coming months, a budget meeting heard.

Westminster’s deputy chief executive Bernie Flaherty gave councillors an update on the Oxford Street plans.

“We are in a position at the moment where we are building up a business case and design stage one. By April we will know how much the scheme is likely to cost,” she told the Budget Scrutiny Task Group, chaired by Cllr Paul Fisher (West End ward).

“One of the biggest changes is that [the project] was referred to as the Oxford Street district before,” she said.

The project is now being focused to limit the changes to Oxford Street itself and not the surrounding area.

“Three or four different elements of the public realm will make the street much more exciting and will make the street touristy and commercial.”

Table showing finance figures.
£60.5m for Oxford Street programme will come from CIL. Image: Westminster City Council, capital budget 2023.

A council budget shows that Westminster Tories had planned to spend £60.5 million before 2025 and the council is expected to spend a similar amount of money on the project, according to Flaherty.

“Lots of elements have made this kind of scheme more expensive. Some of the elements in there in terms of contributions from our partners will be slightly different.

“At this moment the allocation we had for Oxford Street, we can not preempt if we will spend this or not but it looks like a scheme of this type will have those kinds of figures,” she said.

The budget report states the project will be funded from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

In total the council is expected to spend £2.7 billion across Westminster in the next five years, in keeping with how much has been spent in previous years, the budget scrutiny meeting heard.

Westminster City Council: Budget Scrutiny Task Group, Capital Strategy, Tuesday 17 January 2023.