A new vision for the West End

A new 15 year vision for the West End of London has been launched. The vision will deliver an initial £500m of improvements to secure the area’s future as the powerhouse that drives the London and United Kingdom economies and as an unrivalled global destination.  The private development investment in the West End is estimated to be in the region of £20bn.

The vision and action plan also aims to ensure that life for the 60,000 residents and 610,000 people who work in the area is as good as any to be found in comparable international locations; that the distinctive neighbourhood feel of the area’s urban villages is enhanced; that large, medium sized and small businesses thrive; and that the visitor experience is the best it can be.

The new vision aims for Oxford Street West to be the world’s best outdoor street shopping experience, complementing Regent Street and Bond Street with an unrivalled mix of flagship and branded stores.  Other parts of the plan will see new homes built in Westminster and a coordinated global drive will bring even more visitors to the West End.  The Partnership is also calling for better local powers and greater financial autonomy to fund more investment.

The Partnership is committed to ensuring that local people and all Londoners are able to see and access the benefits of greater prosperity and better life opportunities that a thriving and growing West End will offer. For example, there is a projected growth in jobs of 77,000 in Westminster by 2036 of which around 22% will be for unskilled or semi-skilled workers, as well as higher skilled jobs that require training. On top of this, it has been estimated that the partnership’s investment programme will support approximately 75,000 jobs in the construction sector by 2030.

Comprising just a few square miles, The West End sits at the heart of a global city projected to expand to ten million people over the next fifteen years, placing unprecedented demands on physical and social infrastructure, such as transport, as well as other vital services such as digital connectivity and capacity which is vital for future economic growth and success. This growing demand is also placing increasing pressures on quality of life issues such as air and noise pollution in this uniquely challenging place.

Key facts and figures include:

  • the area generates 3% of the country’s economic output, £51bn in 2014 which is more than the City of London.
  • over 523,000 people walk along Oxford Street each day and nearly 750,000 pass through the six West End stations on a typical weekday
  • with a total of 610,000 employees, equating to 120,000 per square kilometre, this is on par with the world’s densest employment hubs such as Hong Kong.
  • the West End supports a £22bn visitor economy. In 200m visits per year, people spend an estimated £11bn in its hotels, restaurant, bars and shops. The five most popular attractions alone attract 25m people a year.
  • it is a world centre for educational and cultural excellence, with four world class universities, 30 museums and 40 theatres.

The 2013 West End Commission realised that securing the area’s success meant that a “single voice for the area” was essential, resulting in the establishment of the West End Partnership to provide  stronger leadership, greater coordination and a more influential voice at a local, national and international level. It draws together senior public service and private sector leaders, academic experts and resident representatives. The Partnership has now agreed a vision and delivery plan in response to the challenge the West End faces.

The overall goal is to deliver growth as well as maintain cultural character, with additional revenue that the expected growth produces put back in to improvements in the physical and social infrastructure to help sustain jobs and, most importantly, make a tangible difference to the lives of people who live, visit and work in the West End.

Whilst almost three million square feet of floor space for major development has been granted planning permission by Westminster and Camden Councils in the last three years there will be demands for more space in the next three years – leading up to and beyond Crossrail 1. Looking ahead, Westminster City Council and Camden Council will provide positive, supportive and flexible planning frameworks to facilitate, encourage and manage that demand whilst recognising the West End’s unique character and enhancing quality of life.

The Partnership has agreed the following high level objectives and principles as part of the West End Vision and Action Plan, with 50 separate programmes identified in the delivery plan.

People

The Partnership will improve the lives of those who work, live and visit the West End

Highlights from the people programme include:

  • meet a projected growth in jobs of 77,000 in Westminster by 2036 of which around 22% will be for unskilled or semi-skilled workers.
  • enhance the Recruit London Workplace Coordinator programme matching residents to jobs in the West End.
  • support approximately 75,000 jobs in the construction sector by 2030 through our investment programme.
  • improve air quality.
  • work towards providing a range of housing for those working in the area.
  • increase enforcement of noise disturbances

Place

The Partnership will maintain the West End as a place of vital importance in the UK’s capital city

Highlights from the Place programme include:

Oxford Street West – The vision is to deliver “The world’s best outdoor street shopping experience”, achieved by:

Reducing traffic

  • reduction in vehicles with greater use of surrounding streets for loading, servicing and taxi pick-up.
  •  improvements to public realm and prioritisation of pedestrians.

Creating modern retail spaces

  • improvements to scale and design of buildings.
  • a renewed mix of new and established retailers.
  • online shopping information to guide visitors.
  • build Oxford Street’s brand in the UK and internationally.
  • integrate with a wider network of retailers, leisure and cultural attractions on the surrounding streets.

High quality public realm

  • robust management and maintenance to provide a safe, clean and welcoming environment.
  • more space for pedestrians.

Other highlights include:

Support the delivery of Crossrail which will provide 24 peak trains per hour, each able to carry 1,500 passengers.

  • Deliver a two way system in the Baker Street and Tottenham Court Road areas.
  • Create new and improved green “oases” spaces.

Prosperity

The Partnership will increase prosperity for the West End, London and the UK

Highlights from the Prosperity programme include:

  • aim to generate £15bn in development value as a result of our investment programme over the next 15 years.
  • create more co-working and business incubation spaces, including at Somerset House and Marylebone Flyover and Underpass.
  • deliver more floorspace for large as well as small to medium-sized businesses.
  • lobby for improved broadband access and speeds.
  • stage world-class events

Cllr Philippa Roe, Chair, West End Partnership and Leader of Westminster City Council said:

“We are pleased to present our vision and action plan for the West End, a vibrant and endlessly changing place of vital importance to the UK’s capital city. The unique mix of urban neighbourhoods, businesses, cultural attractions, leisure and hospitality, and cutting-edge, internationally recognised commercial sectors makes the area uniquely challenging to support. But it is this diversity that makes it so special, a home for new and established communities, a magnet for millions of visitors and hundreds of thousands of jobs. In the face of growing and intense international competition and constrained public finances, the West End needs a strong vision and voice to secure its growing success, so that everyone can benefit as we increase prosperity and create more jobs for Londoners.”

Peter Vernon, Deputy Chairman, West End Partnership and Chief Executive, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland said:

“The West End is a national asset with global standing and enormous potential for growth. London and the UK will benefit from the West End’s continued success. With sufficient ambition and action, we can achieve growth while enhancing the West End’s unique character.

Sir Peter Rogers, Chairman New West End Company said:

“London’s West End is a strategic asset that benefits the whole of the UK. To continue to drive growth and employment forward we need a strong partnership between the areas Business Improvement Districts, Westminster City Council, Transport for London, the Mayor, Government and business.

“Immediate priorities should include preparing for the opening of Crossrail, tackling air quality and traffic congestion. Giving London’s regional government more power, resources and authority would make a real and positive difference that would benefit all.”

Daniel Van Gelder, the Chairman of Westminster Property Association, said:

“The West End serves as an economic powerhouse driving the success of both London and the UK, and this plan is designed to secure its position as the greatest city in the world in the face of increasing international competition.

“It is essential we continue to develop its commercial centre, creating jobs and prosperity for London’s growing population, whilst delivering a wider mix of homes so people from all walks of life can live here.”

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, London’s Transport Commissioner, said:

“The West End is one of London’s great assets, crucial to our city’s attractiveness and economic growth, and we’re investing hundreds of millions of pounds in making life better for people who live or work in, or visit, the area. We’re expanding Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road Underground stations and building enormous new Crossrail stations, which will transform access to and from the West End. We’re improving road junctions, building new safer cycle lanes, and working towards the introduction of the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2020, which will significantly improve air quality.

“For the west end to thrive we need to be bold, and we are now working with the West End Partnership to carry forward their vision and deliver real change to ensure the area’s continued success.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said:

“It is clear that transformational change would deliver huge benefits for the West End. Crossrail is a key part of making that happen and this plan takes us another big step forward. I look forward to continuing our work with the West End Partnership to ensure that improvements to urban realm and transport can enhance the vibrancy of the West End as this report clearly sets out.”

Councillor Jonathan Simpson, Cabinet member for Community Safety for Camden Council said: “Camden is very pleased to be part of this innovative partnership. Issues such as accessibility, congestion and air quality cut across council boundaries and the partnership brings together relevant authorities, businesses and resident groups to address the unique needs of the West End, one of the most important areas, both economically and socially in the city.

“The project is contributing to the improvement and development of this area of central London by increasing the opportunities for the people, the place and the area’s overall prosperity.

“An example of this is the West End Project, a £41 million plan to transform the Tottenham Court Road area into one of London’s premier commercial, cultural and academic districts.

“This project will help to address one of London’s worst areas for pollution. The project will make journeys quicker and safer, as well as creating a more attractive place for businesses, people to enjoy and the benefit of the whole community.”