Oxford Street is set to get a £120mn makeover under new plans that are emerging from Westminster City Council.
The council hopes to give Oxford Street a facelift complete with new green spaces and seating by spring 2026.
But the Labour-controlled council has scrapped plans to stop traffic driving east to west through the centre of the street near Oxford Circus Station and being diverted into the surrounding neighbourhoods.
A report of Bernie Flaherty, deputy chief executive, states: “Previous proposals for Oxford Circus looked at pedestrianisation, piazzas and no east to west traffic movement through the Circus.
“However, the Oxford Street Programme will allow designated traffic to move east to west through the Circus and north to south up and down Regent Street. Proposals are in early stages of development and will be subject to engagement and stakeholder discussions.”
The council previously said at a budget meeting that it will spend around £60mn over the next three years making Oxford Street more exciting.
Its new plan for the street includes pedestrianised areas, improved lighting, green spaces and extra seating areas. Improvements are also planned for James Street, Davies Street and Grosvenor Square.
In December 2022 the council spoke to 200 people at an event looking at how it could improve Oxford Street. According to a report, most respondents said they liked the shopping experience on and thought it had good transport links.
But respondents complained about overcrowding, how hard it can be to move around and the amount of litter. They also asked for more seating and greenery.
Announcing the new plans at a Westminster Council scrutiny meeting last week, councillor Geoff Barraclough said: “There are risks remaining. I don’t want to underestimate that. One of them is private sector contribution. If we are going to make this work traders and landowners on Oxford Street who benefit will need to pay their share… There is a risk of inflation with building materials and there is a risk when you go digging in Oxford Circus when you are so close to wires and other infrastructure.”
He added: “I am confident we have the finances under control so we won’t be exposed to the same magnitude as previously.”
A further Cabinet Report is due to be submitted in May which will recommend a drawdown of funds from the overall budget once the revised business case is approved and initial designs for Oxford Street are completed.
The council is seeking external third-party funders to match its own capital funding and is in discussion about contributions from the New West End Company, the business improvement district covering the whole of Oxford Street.
A more detailed plan for the Oxford Street project and a public engagement strategy is due to be published before the end of March 2023.
Westminster City Council, Finance, Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Committee – Thursday 9th March, 2023 7.00 pm.
Additional reporting by Linus Rees.