Oxford Street pedestrianisation, next steps to be looked at after plan axed

The local authority responsible for London's Oxford Street, Westminster city council, is next week to discuss how it can move forward after axing plans to pedestrianise part of the giant shopping street.

Oxford Street's pedestrianisation strategy may have been cancelled but it's likely to remain an issue

Westminster had originally appeared to back the partial traffic ban but later withdrew its support after feedback from local residents showed major concerns about the knock-on effect on other streets in London's West End.

The council's cabinet will meet on July 9 to consider a report setting out the next steps for transforming the Oxford Street district, City AM reported.

While the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had described the abandonment of the pedestrianised plan as “a betrayal of the millions of Londoners and visitors to our city,” it wasn't only local residents who were opposed to it.

There were also concerns on the part of business groups about overcrowding on the soon-to-open Elizabeth Line. Transport for London forecasts already expect passenger numbers to rise by 37% at Tottenham Court Road station and 17% at Bond Street station when the line opens in December. With traffic also removed from Oxford Street, those rises could have been even greater, presenting a huge safety challenge

The council has said that it remains committed to “bringing forward ambitious plans that will improve and future-proof Oxford Street and surrounding district for many generations to come.”

It added that “we want a district-wide solution that will ensure Oxford Street retains its status as the nation’s high street in a rapidly evolving retail environment and is renowned as a must-visit destination by visitors from London, the UK and overseas.”

However, while it's off the table for now, it’s likely that pedestrianisation as an option will continue to be suggested in the years to come. That's because of the levels of pollution on the street, as well as the inconvenience heavy traffic can cause.

Last month, data from environmental tech firm Plume Labs found that Oxford Street suffers illegal levels of toxic air around 80% of the time. The data, compiled for the Evening Standard, supported one of the key arguments of those who wish to pedestrianise the street.

Plume also simulated a traffic-three model that showed the street would only exceed legal limits for toxic air around 20% of the time if traffic was to be banned.

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