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Consultation begins on transforming Oxford Street District

Westminster City Council and TfL are working closely together to deliver an ambitious transformation programme that will ensure Oxford St will be renowned as the world’s best outdoor shopping experience.

The opening of the Elizabeth Line in 2018 offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver improvements that will make this icon of London and the UK a destination of choice for many years to come

To help shape what the future of Oxford St could be, an initial eight-week consultation launches today (Monday 24 April) to seek views from as many people as possible as to how to improve Oxford Street and the surrounding District, to maintain its position as the jewel in the West End crown.

Once the results of the first round of consultation are known, a further consultation could follow in the autumn on a detailed scheme, paving the way for the start of the transformation of Oxford Street by December 2018, when the Elizabeth line opens.

The Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Nickie Aiken, and London’s Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown MVO, have today both welcomed the start of a consultation to support the delivery of what is expected to be one of the most ambitious place-shaping projects London has ever seen.

A world class destination, Oxford Street is a leading shopping and cultural hub that welcomes more than 500,000 visitors every day. It is home to some of the best-loved stores and brand names as well as being a key commercial centre that drives the London and UK economies. There is also a strong educational and cultural tradition, from the University of Westminster to the world famous London Palladium and prestigious Wigmore Hall.

The district is also home to a vibrant local community who are proud to call the area their home. However, international competition and ongoing local issues such as overcrowding, congestion and poor air quality are putting its long-term future at risk.

The proposals to transform Oxford Street aim to significantly improve the area, as well as creating jobs, opportunities and prosperity, bolstering the area’s reputation as a leading shopping destination and ensuring the District retains the unique character of its neighbourhoods. Westminster City Council and TfL propose to create a new world-class public space by:

  • improving the public spaces and overall experience so that people will want to visit and keep coming back
  • improving neighbourhoods so they are some of the best places to live and visit in London
  • reducing the volume of traffic on Oxford Street‎
  • addressing its poor air quality
  • reducing crowding on Oxford Street and improving road safety
  • managing the traffic in the surrounding area and improving neighbourhoods for residents.
  • supporting businesses throughout the District, enabling economic growth and creating jobs
  • ensuring the area remains accessible

Val Shawcross, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “Today is an exciting first step in our plans to transform Oxford Street into one of the finest public spaces in the world. Oxford Street is iconic as a shopping destination, but there is far too much pollution and we have a huge opportunity to make it cleaner and safer for the millions of people who use the street every year.

“We need to make the transformation the very best it can be – ensuring it benefits local residents, businesses, and people who rely upon transport links in the area. This is an important first opportunity for Londoners to have their say before we outline our detailed proposals later in the year.”

Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Nickie Aiken, said: “This consultation is the first step towards transforming Oxford Street to make it an even more enjoyable experience for the thousands of people that use the area every single day. We want to ensure that all residents, office workers, shoppers and tourists benefit from the improvements to one of the busiest and most famous streets in Europe.

“In order to achieve this, we would urge as many people as possible to take part in the consultation and have their say on the future of an iconic area of London. The Mayor and I are in total agreement that the area should be massively improved but we don’t yet have any firm plans. That’s why we want to hear what residents, businesses, visitors and workers think will improve the district.

“Once we have gathered as many views as we can, we will develop a detailed proposal and a second round of consultation is planned in the autumn. It is a highly complex environment, but we know that by working together with all those who have a stake in the future of the area, we can get the best outcomes for the Oxford Street district.”

London’s Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown MVO, said: “Oxford Street is known across the globe as a fantastic place to shop, meet friends and socialise. The introduction of the Elizabeth line will help ensure that it retains its iconic status for years to come.

“It’s therefore vital that we take this once in a lifetime opportunity to make the area an even better place to live, work and visit. I would encourage everyone to get involved in this important consultation and help us shape the future of this world-renowned destination.”

For more information and to respond to the consultation, visit www.tfl.gov.uk/oxford-street.

The Nation’s Powerhouse event, 8 November 2016

Response to Autumn Statement from Westminster City Council CEO Charlie Parker

“The Case for the West End funding was submitted by the West End Partnership to the government earlier this year and was widely supported by partners in the West End.   This tax incremental finance funding case proposes that Westminster City Council should be allowed to retain locally 6.5% rather than 4% of the £1.8 billion business rates collected by the authority, which would provide over £400m of new public funding over fifteen years.  This would be invested in infrastructure improvements and encourage inward investment which would create £12.3 billion in additional economic output and generate at least £2.5 billion in additional tax, as well as over 100,000 jobs and productivity gains in the UK economy.

Our original intention was to secure approval for the proposals in the Autumn Statement but following changes in the government it became clear that this year’s statement was to work differently – less of a set piece setting out of funding plans and not all funding announcements made in either the statement or the Budget.   Indeed, as you will have seen, this turned out to be the last Autumn Statement this government intends to hold.

The economic and fiscal case for the West End has been well received by officials and now has good political support.   We believe that Ministers will be considering it shortly in the light of the macro-economic priorities it began to outline in the Autumn Statement.  Discussions with HM Treasury and civil servants in DCLG and BEIS have moved on from the economic proof of case and are now focussing on how the mechanics of the finance would work in detail and the final terms for the settlement.   A decision is therefore expected early in 2017, which will then enable projects awaiting funding to proceed as planned.

We are very grateful for the considerable support given by partners in building this case to date and look forward to continue working with them to secure an early decision on the settlement.”

Read ‘The Case for the West End’ to find out how the West End is powering the nation, and the details of our case to the Treasury.

The West End is one of the most celebrated and exciting places in the world. Comprising just a few square miles, it sits at the heart of a global city projected to expand to 10 million people over the next 15 years. As a national asset with £51 billion annual GVA, it generates 15% of London’s economic output and 3% of the country’s – larger than the City of London’s contribution. It has one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of jobs anywhere in the UK hosting 610,000 employees. It is also a magnet for tourism attracting 31.5 million international and UK visitors in 2015 who spent £11 billion.

Formed in 2013, the West End Partnership brings together senior public service and private sector leaders, academic experts and resident representatives. It was created to be the catalyst and mechanism to enable the West End to accommodate growth, whilst at the same time strengthen its unique cultural character, amenity and openness.

The Partnership will coordinate and initiate action and delivery in response to this growth with new policies, plans and actions which benefit residents, communities, businesses and visitors alike.

View the Partnership’s annual report (2015-2016)

Register for the West End Partnership e-bulletin for regular updates