New West End Company response to the Oxford Street District Strategy Consultation

New West End Company has made a formal response to the Oxford Street District Place-shaping proposals, on behalf of the 600 businesses in the 74 streets we represent across the West End and Mayfair.

Read our full response here.

We are very encouraged by the approach taken and the commitment to £150m of new investment. The Place-shaping proposals, in particular the creation of a traffic-free gateway at Oxford Circus, a major intervention at Marble Arch and limiting entry to sections of Oxford Street to only bus services at peak times of the day, are essential for the safety of the public and the future prosperity of the district.

Investment in Oxford Street is much needed. It will benefit residents, workers and visitors alike and will make a direct contribution to several of Westminster City Council’s (WCC) key policy objectives. As such Oxford Street and its transport gateways should be the first priority for construction and completion in time for when the Elizabeth Line is fully operational.

The benchmark for a high quality public realm scheme is how it looks and continues to function five and ten years later, as well as immediately after its construction. We therefore strongly encourage the creation of a new private-public sectors Task Force to scope and plan a world-class approach to place-management for the International Shopping Centre. Its operation, including waste and recycling, street cleansing, security and maintenance, should commence before, rather than wait until completion of the new public realm.

Street trader kiosks blight our district. They take up much needed footway space, obscure the rest of the district and at junctions may contribute to the poor road safety record. They are not compatible with the Place-shaping principles. Space may also be needed for hostile vehicle mitigation. Urgent action therefore needs to be taken. We therefore believe there is a compelling case in the public interest to remove trading kiosks.

The place-shaping proposals and the draft City Plan have to be complementary for Oxford Street to succeed in the future. It is important too that interpretation and enforcement of policy through planning and licensing decisions is also joined-up and follows the intention of the new policies, particularly in facilitating Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street to benefit from their international Retail Centre status.

We welcome:

  • the Place-shaping strategy proposals, which are district-wide and end-to-end and would like to see them delivered in their full entirety and;
  • the £150m of new funding, which is additional to the borough’s routine maintenance, LIP, Section 106 and CIL funding.

In summary our position is:

  1. The prioritisation needs to be more fine grain, based on a clear criteria and with fewer Priority One streets, limited to Oxford Street and the gateways alone, not least of all to protect the 50,000 jobs.
  2. The Priority One streets should be fully constructed in time for the full operation of the Elizabeth Line (Reading and Heathrow to Abbey Wood and Shenfield).
  3. Creation of a West End of traffic-free gateways, including Oxford Circus, and timed and traffic restricted access spaces on Oxford Street is essential for the scheme to have an impact.
  4. The proposals for Marble Arch could be even more ambitious, creating a world-class traffic-free ‘Great Space’, with the gyratory removed and traffic lanes rationalised.
  5. Oxford Street should be reduced to two bus services, with other services terminating before reaching Oxford Street and general traffic managed and reduced across the wider district.
  6. Restricted access to Oxford Street for taxis and other traffic; and alternative high-quality routes for cyclists should form a key strand of the proposals.
  7. Street trading kiosks should be significantly reduced as a priority.
  8. Freight, waste, recycling and deliveries preferred supplier requires a single district-wide approach.
  9. Planning and licensing regulations need to support retail as well as enable flexible and changing leisure uses to support the economy, in particular the evening and night time economy.
  10. The district should be managed as a distinctive area, with a well-resourced, robust and strongly enforced management plan, rather than as an extension to WCC’s street management services which should commence before, rather than wait until completion of the new public realm.  Private sector property owners and managing agents offer to assist in a time-limited Street Management Task Force to oversee its development.

Finally, we will work with residents, WCC and other agencies to ensure these ambitious proposals are delivered as soon as possible and to benefit all stakeholders.

Read our full response here.

Fri 14 December 2018