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Residents’ revolt against Oxford Street pedestrianisation

People from Soho, Marylebone, Mayfair and Fitzrovia have formed the Better Oxford Street group to 'speak for those who live and work in the area'

19 May, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

A consultation about the transformation of Oxford Street has been launched by Transport for London [Photo: Maurizo Pesce]

COMMUNITY groups are uniting against plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street.

New group Better Oxford Street is calling on residents to say “no” to Transport for London transformation proposals that would “greatly damage” the surrounding streets with traffic chaos.

The new group is made up of members from the The Marylebone Association, The Soho Society, Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, Charlotte Street Association, Mayfair residents Group and the Residents’ Society of Mayfair and St James’s.

Michael Bolt, deputy chairman of Marylebone Association, said: “There was a need for an organisation that could speak for those who live and work around Oxford Street to point out the consequences of Oxford Street closure, as we could not expect this to be done by either TfL or the mayor.

Indeed that’s proved to be the case. Pedestrianisation is being presented as a win-win scenario, with no mention of what would happen to all the displaced traffic, and this is very misleading.

“It is the job of Better Oxford Street to redress the balance, otherwise the public will get only one side of the story.”

In leaflets, thousands of which were distributed around Westminster, the group said: “We all want a Better Oxford Street which really tackles the issues congestion, air quality and safety rather than just shifting the problems into the surrounding streets and areas which play a vital part in the West End’s success.”

TfL’s new consultation asks for views by June 18, on a number of options, some involving closing the street to buses, taxis, cyclists and commercial vehicles. Better Oxford Street say “transformation” was essentially “pedestrianisation”.

Paul Neville, from the Marylebone Association, said: “To pedestrianise Oxford Street in isolation can only increase congestion and cause detriment to an area with a substantial residential population, a large number of schools and many hospitals, clinics and medical practices.

“These are the people, many of whom are already vulnerable, who will suffer. Oxford Street can, no doubt, be improved by a number of measures.”

Matthew Bennett, chair of Soho Society planning and environment group, said: “Before removing traffic from Oxford Street measures need to be taken across the whole area to reduce congestion and improve air quality. Otherwise the displaced traffic will simply add to the existing congestion and pollution in all our areas.”

But numerous campaigners have urged that the street be fully pedestrianised. Peter Hartley, from Westminster Living Streets campaign, said: “I understand residents’ concerns but its puzzling as the residential areas around Oxford Street have been rat-run for years by vehicles without a murmur from residents. In any case the displacement is never as bad as feared and if the residents are so concerned why not design a filter scheme to keep through-traffic out?

“We simply cannot allow Oxford Street being a death trap for one moment longer with the constant awful pollution and the equally horrifying number of pedestrians who are killed and seriously injured in this street.” TfL and council staff are to stage a series of roadshows about the proposals in mid-June.

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