Community groups from the four districts surrounding Oxford Street are calling on residents to oppose pedestrianisation of the shopping street by responding to a consultation saying they do not support the plans.
The collection of associations in Fitzrovia, Marylebone, Mayfair and Soho say the joint consultation by Transport for London and Westminster City Council is designed in such a way as to gain support for the Mayor of London’s desire to pedestrianise the street.
However, nowhere in the consultation document does the word “pedestrianisation” appear but instead the word “transformation” is used instead.
Paul Neville of the Marylebone Association says that although the consultation uses the word “transformation” it is “taking place in the light of the Mayor’s wish to pedestrianise Oxford Street”.
“This initial consultation contains only three questions, but the first key question seeks only to measure support for ‘transformation’. It is easy to support improvements but, as there are no actual plans to assess, this becomes a trap,” says Neville in a post on the Marylebone Association website.
Residents in the four districts are concerned that the consultation document contains no meaningful information about how buses, taxis and delivery vehicles will serve the street and the impact this will have on the surrounding area.
“There is insufficient information to judge the possible serious effects on the area at large and traffic modelling data is not yet available to consider the potential impacts,” says Neville.
But the ideas being put forward include allowing taxi ranks in side streets — as advocated by the campaign group Living Streets — and possibly diverting buses through neighbouring streets, and allowing night-time deliveries. All of these will increase pollution, congestion and noise in residential streets.
“As the number of responses for and against ‘transformation’ may ultimately be very influential in helping the Mayor reach a final decision on pedestrianisation, we have no choice but to encourage members to select the third answer to question one — ‘I do not support the transformation of Oxford Street’.”
The residents groups have formed a joint campaign group and are pressing TfL to fix the current problems with pollution and congestion instead of shifting them from one area to another.
The Better Oxford Street campaign has produced 10,000 leaflets for distribution mostly in Marylebone which is likely to bear the largest displacement of motor vehicles into its streets.
“We all want a Better Oxford Street which really tackles the issues of congestion, air quality and safety rather than just shifting the problems into the surrounding streets and areas which play a vital part of the West End’s success,” states the leaflet.
Last year residents in Fitzrovia, Marylebone, Mayfair and Soho told London Assembly members they were worried about traffic being displaced into the neighbouring streets. They have told the Mayor of London that they want to see traffic reduction and improved air quality in streets where people live.
Driving by local 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 campaign group Living Streets say they want nothing less than the complete removal of motor traffic from Oxford Street.
Tompion Platt, head of policy and communications, Living Streets responded to the consultation saying:
“We’re delighted the Mayor of London and Westminster City Council are working together to transform Oxford Street into a truly world-class public space for Londoners and visitors to enjoy.
“We recognise this is a complex undertaking that requires careful consideration both of Oxford Street and the surrounding neighbourhoods. Whilst the design detail is to be worked out, it is essential that any final proposal includes the full removal of motor vehicles travelling along Oxford Street, including buses and taxis, if it is to be transformed into one of the world’s great public spaces.”
Download: Better Oxford Street leaflet (pdf).
Public consultation (closes 18 June 2017): Have your say on the transformation of Oxford Street.