Plans to pedestrianise a large section of Oxford Street by the end of the year may not go ahead as Westminster Council rejected them as “unacceptable”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL (Transport for London) had proposed pedestrianising the western end of the street from Oxford Circus to Orchard Street, which runs adjacent to Selfridges.
Despite apparent strong support for the scheme, following a public consultation, local residents are said to have raised concerns about the diversion of traffic to neighbouring areas such as Marylebone, Fitzrovia and Mayfair.
Westminster’s cabinet member for Oxford Street, Daniel Astaire, has told officials to stop working on the plan and at a council meeting last week, he said: “TfL and the Mayor are the main proponents of the changes to the street, but it belongs to the council and the decision rests with us.
“I have informed them — much to some surprise — that detailed work on a scheme is to be stopped. They had even wanted to appoint an artist to design street concept art, but I have stopped this too. At present there is no scheme nor a proposal which is acceptable to the council,” the London Evening Standard has reported.
Oxford Street has been described as Europe’s busiest shopping street and its most polluted. Khan is said to have been motivated to push for the proposal to improve air quality.
However it emerged, following the initial public consultation which ended on 6 April, that a number of residents’ views had not been taken into consideration as an incorrect email address had been published. The Mayor’s office said the project was a joint one between the Mayor, TfL and Westminster Council and that it would be working hard to ensure all views were heard.
The initial plan was to complete the pedestrianisation of the area in time for the opening of the Elizabeth Line in December of this year. The new east-west train line will bring as many as 40% more visitors to Oxford Street, on top of the 500,000 that arrive each day.