People living in the neighbourhoods near Oxford Street have come out strongly against plans to pedestrianise the shopping street because of concerns about displacing motor vehicles into surrounding areas, according to the results of a consultation carried out by Transport for London and Westminster Council and published this week.
More than 65 percent of local residents are either opposed to or have concerns about the proposals put forward by Mayor Sadiq Khan and pushed for by campaign group Living Streets. Residents say they are strongly against buses being diverted along parallel roads and taxi ranks being placed in side streets.
The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association is deeply concerned about pollution in the area and has called upon the Mayor of London to restrict motor vehicles on high pollution days. Residents groups in Bloomsbury, Fitzrovia, Marylebone, Mayfair and Soho want the Mayor to take action to reduce pollution and congestion over the entire West End and central London.
Businesses are even more opposed to the scheme: 60 percent are unequivocally against, a further 16 percent with concerns, and only 19 percent are fully in favour of the scheme. This figure puts most businesses at odds with the New West End Company which is in favour of the proposal albeit with some reservations.
Nearly 50 percent of all respondents either oppose or have concerns about the proposals and only 43 percent support the transformation of Oxford Street and are comfortable with the changes that would be necessary to make it possible, according to the consultation report.
However, Transport for London and the Mayor’s office are claiming there is “strong support” for the proposals. In a press release sent out by TfL — and faithfully churned out by the Evening Standard and City AM — they claim 62 percent of respondents are in favour of the “transformation” plans.
But TfL did acknowledge the concerns raised by residents and businesses saying it “was clear that any scheme must address a range of transport, accessibility and congestion concerns raised by locals and others.”
TfL also described the next steps to be taken over the next four years.
“To support the transformation programme, ten detailed work streams are now underway to directly address the wide range of comments raised during first consultation. Each project will help shape the broader plans to ensure that the transformation delivers for all with minimal impact to local traffic, residents or businesses,” it said.
A further consultation by TfL and Westminster Council will take place in November and which will go into more detail about the first stage of the Oxford Street transformation project and also asking for views on the eastern end of Oxford Street.
“Subject to the outcomes of the proposed second consultation, a transition scheme could be in place by the time the Elizabeth line service opens in December 2018 with a full transformation scheme planned to be in place by 2021,” says TfL.
Residents groups have told Fitzrovia News that they remain unconvinced of TfL’s ability to deliver full pedestrianisation of Oxford Street without displacing a great deal of congestion, pollution and night time disturbance into neighbouring areas.
Documents: TfL consultation report October 2017.