Westminster City Council will carry out the first of two separate public consultations starting next week (Monday 24 April) before deciding on how to implement the Mayor of London’s vision for Oxford Street.
“The consultation will start on 24 April, ahead of a second consultation on a preferred scheme in November 2017,” says the West End Partnership which is chaired by Westminster council leader Cllr Nickie Aiken.
“The aim of this first consultation is to focus on why transformation of the district and specifically Oxford Street West, from Orchard Street to Oxford Circus, is required. The consultation will seek views on what the transformation of Oxford Street could mean, particularly in terms of transport,” states the West End Partnership in a newsletter.
The plans are being drawn up to coincide with the opening of the Elizabeth line (aka Crossrail) in 2018 and the increase in expected visitors to the area coming from the Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road stations. Bond Street station may see over 50 percent more people using it through the day.
The first stage consultation will run for eight weeks and give people the opportunity to submit their views on air quality, traffic congestion, pedestrian experience, way finding, accessibility, and access to public transport.
The council will seek views on deliveries and servicing to businesses, parking, the impact on side streets from any displaced traffic, the night time experience, and personal safety.
The consultation will also give people the chance to express their concerns about the impact on particular areas of the district and ideas to mitigate those impacts.
The responses from the first stage consultation will then inform development of a very detailed proposal for Oxford Street and District. This will be subject to a second, and statutory, consultation later in the year also carried out by Westminster council which is developing the plans with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London.
The results of the first stage of the consultation will be presented in a report to the deputy leader of the council Cllr Robert Davis and will seek his approval for the second consultation on the detailed design and implementation of the proposed scheme. This second consultation will start in November 2017 and run for eight weeks, says a cabinet report.
The transformation of the section of Oxford Street from Oxford Circus to Orchard Street will start to be introduced ahead of the introduction of Elizabeth line services in December 2018.
Further consultations on the sections between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, and between Marble Arch and Orchard Street, will subsequently be held.
Residents in the surrounding neighbourhoods of Fitzrovia, Marylebone, Mayfair and Soho have already expressed concern about traffic being displaced from Oxford Street into the surrounding streets. They have told the Mayor of London that they want to see traffic reduction and improved air quality in streets where people live.
The Oxford Street district is very congested and highly polluted, yet driving by residents is amongst the lowest in the country with some parts of Fitzrovia and Soho having less than 20 percent of households having access to a car.
However, the Mayor of London and Westminster council is coming under increasing pressure to pedestrianise Oxford Street by the campaign group Living Streets who say “Oxford Street should be for people not vehicles”.
But Living Streets have suggested taxi ranks should be moved to surrounding streets.
“With 38 side roads there should be no issues with designing sufficient taxi pick-up points. Consideration will need to be given to ensure traffic is not just pushed on to neighbouring streets,” says Living Streets in their Oxford Street myth-buster.
Will Norman the Mayor’s cycling and walking czar has told the London Assembly that cyclists might not be allowed along Oxford Street and it could be restricted to pedestrians only.
If cyclists are banned from the street they will be forced to join the stream of London Taxis and the increasing number of private hire cars and delivery vans on the busy parallel routes.
“In Oxford Street in the morning peak there are about 200 cyclists per hour. In Wigmore Street, slightly to the north, there are about the same number per hour, and again on New Cavendish Street and George Street,” reported the Evening Standard.
Transport for London has already announced that 40 percent fewer buses will run on Oxford Street.
“Buses will be re-routed away from Oxford Street, moving the termini for some routes to Park Lane, Trafalgar Square and Tottenham Court Road, while extending other routes to maintain connections. TfL will begin to implement the changes in the summer,” it says.
Consultation part 1: Have your say on the transformation of Oxford Street. The deadline for comments is Sunday 18 June 2017.
Editorial note: a number of minor corrections were made to this article on 24 April to clarify the consultation dates and future consultations.