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Council begins work on new Oxford Street plan after Khan snub

Cabinet sets aside £727,000 for project

13 July, 2018 — By Tom Foot

The scrapped Oxford Street pedestrianisation vision

THE council says it is ready to draw a line under the Oxford Street pedestrianisation shambles after it agreed a timetable and budget to work up a new scheme this week.

Westminster’s cabinet on Monday agreed to start work on a new “area-wide” solution after its – and the London Mayor’s – previous scheme was scrapped.

The council had supported Sadiq Khan in proposals to pedestrianise Oxford Street but after the plans were opposed by community groups before the May council elections it backed out of the project. Council leader Nickie Aiken said the new plans would be a “coherent and district-wide solution” and would maintain Oxford Street as “the nation’s high street in a rapidly evolving retail environment”.

Last week Mr Khan wrote to the council blasting it for wrecking his Oxford Street plan “uni- laterally, with no attempt to compromise” or draw up any ideas of their own.

His “Dear Nickie” letter said:  “We are all aware of the structural changes facing the retail sector. This was brought into sharp focus the same day you withdrew from our project, when House of Fraser announced that it will close its Oxford Street flagship store.

“Ultimately the risk of not proceeding with ambitious and meaningful change is a risk to London’s future competitive- ness on the national and international stage. This has implications not only for the businesses on Oxford Street, but economies of London and the UK and ultimately all of our constituents.” The majority of residents and conservation groups flanking Oxford Street had opposed the pedestrianisation plan.

An independent party was formed before the May elections and three candidates stood for election. In the end, they did not have a major impact on the result. But days before the poll the council agreed to tear up its plans with the Mayor to pedestrianise Oxford Street.

The council said it will now look at changes to the entire street, between Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch. The previous plan was between Oxford Circus and Marble Arch.

The new plan, which will be out for consultation in November, is to create a public space that is “greener, less polluted, and seamlessly connected” and to introduce “pedestrian safety measures” outside the Elizabeth line stations at Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street, which are supposed to be opening at the end of the year. The council has set aside £727,000 of its own funds to develop the “new district-wide solution”.

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