Oxford Street’s £235m revamp gets closer

A £235million plan to revamp Oxford Street with two “public piazzas” has taken a step closer, but there’s no chance that any of it will be pedestrianised, writes Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter.

To deliver the “world class” scheme, Westminster council has tasked J Murphy & Sons Ltd with producing designs, while Carey Group will lead on construction.

Oxford Street is visited by 600,000 people every day, while the West End gets 200 million visitors per year – including 50 million overseas tourists.

Improvements will focus on easing congestion and increasing pedestrian capacity, in time for an influx of new visitors who will journey to central London when the Underground Elizabeth line opens.

The announcement by the council said new cycle routes could be built, and that reducing air pollution will be among its objectives.

It said nearly 100 “distinct projects” will be included, with focus on “two new public piazzas” at Oxford Circus, which will be created by narrowing the lanes of traffic and broadening pavements.

“Beautiful and green public spaces” could also be created along the famous shopping district.

Councillor Richard Beddoe, the council’s cabinet member for planning, said £150million has so far been committed to “kick start” the scheme out of an estimated total of £235million.

He said: “We are hugely ambitious for the Oxford Street district and have already set aside £150million of council capital funds to massively kick start delivery of our exciting vision.

“Our appointment of J Murphy & Sons Ltd and Carey Group is a clear statement that we mean business and we remain fully focused on delivering the much-needed improvements.

“We are taking huge strides towards turning our vision for the Oxford Street district into exhilarating reality and we look forward to continue working with residents, businesses and everyone who has an interest in the area’s success.”

The council has said the remaining money to complete the £235million budget will be raised from private backers.

Plans to radically upgrade Oxford Street have been touted for several years.

In June 2018, Westminster council effectively pulled the plug on a controversial scheme put forward by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Under Mr Khan’s plans, half a mile of road between Oxford Circus and Orchard Street, going east to west, would have been made completely traffic-free.

Then council leader Nickie Aiken said Mr Khan’s plans were deeply unpopular with locals, while Mr Khan called the council’s veto a “betrayal”.

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