Transforming one of the most famous shopping streets in the world
London’s Oxford Street could be transformed into a pedestrianised boulevard by Christmas. The famous section of Europe’s busiest shopping street between Oxford Circus and Orchard Street would be the first to become largely traffic-free, although north and south routes across Oxford Street would be retained because of fears of gridlock on side-streets.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says it would turn the district into the world’s best outdoor shopping experience and create new traffic-free public spaces in the heart of London to rival other world cities such as Paris and New York.
Westminster City Council is currently sifting through public feedback on the proposal, but says if the project gets the green light it could be ready by December to coincide with the opening of the new underground tube link - the Elizabeth line.
Plans include raising the carriageway so it’s level with the existing footpaths between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus, making the area more accessible for everyone.
New seating would be placed along the street to give people a chance to rest and spend time enjoying the area. A new 800m-long work of public art could also be commissioned for the length of the former carriageway, acting as a centrepiece for the transformed street. Cyclists will be banned from the street unless they dismount, although new cycle routes will be created for the area.
The plans have been designed to fit with the wider extensive improvements being made across the West End, including the transformation of Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road stations in advance of the Elizabeth line. A range of measures are being implemented to help protect the wider area from traffic and air quality impacts.
“This is a hugely exciting moment for the capital,” Sadiq Khan said. “Alongside the arrival of the Elizabeth Line, the Oxford Street area will be truly transformed over the coming years. We will continue to work closely with residents, businesses and Westminster Council to ensure the plans are the very best they can be, including investing in wider pavements, pedestrian crossings, more taxi ranks and further high-quality cycling infrastructure to support everyone living and working in the wider area.”
The chief executive of London’s walking and cycling charity, Sustrans, says “the transformation of Oxford Street will give Londoners room to breathe in the heart of the city. This is a crucial step forward in freeing up space for people, instead of metal boxes. Making this iconic destination free of traffic, free of exhaust fumes and open for all to enjoy is vital at a time when London is facing an air pollution crisis.”