The overhaul of Oxford Street has moved a step closer as Westminster City Council and the New West End Company (NWEC) formally signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreement to restore one of Europe’s premier shopping destinations to its former glory.
The partnership, one of the capital’s most significant public-private ventures in recent years, starts the countdown to work starting on the project next year. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Council and NWEC - which represents 600 retail, restaurant, hotel, and property owners across the West End - sets out the ambition to joint-fund the Oxford Street project.
In a related move, Westminster City Council’s cabinet last night (Monday Sept 11th) formally approved the business case for the Oxford Street scheme and approved £7.7m for the next phase of design work. This will incorporate responses to the large-scale consultation run over the summer. Construction work is expected to start in the Autumn of 2024.
The plans cover the entire 1.8km length of Oxford Street from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road with key features including improved footways, greening and seating. Junctions joining the street, including at Oxford Circus, will be redesigned to create more space for pedestrians and the Council will instal 12 new controlled pedestrian crossings as well as improving 45 existing crossing points. Additional schemes will further enhance surrounding streets and key locations.
Cllr Geoff Barraclough, Westminster City Council’s (WCC) Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development, said:
“After years of abandoned schemes, we are now about to finally get under way with a deliverable plan to breathe new life into Oxford Street. With the support of our partners at NWEC, we now have a coalition of the council, retailers, landowners, and others in place to develop a practical but also ambitious plan.
“The West End constantly needs to adapt if it is to continue to be a draw to shoppers. The buzz is definitely back on Oxford Street with brands like IKEA and HMV taking up space in Oxford Street, and the prospect of new galleries and arts spaces will make it a great all-round experience.
“The UK’s high street needs to be a place that local communities, residents, and visitors can feel pride in. The New West End Company and Westminster City Council have a long track record in successful collaboration, and together with local communities we will work to ensure it remains a prime visitor attraction.”
Dee Corsi, Chief Executive Officer, New West End Company (NWEC) added:
“We are delighted to be working with Westminster City Council and our members on the enhancement of Oxford Street’s public realm. This is just one part of a bigger, once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity to regenerate one of the world’s most iconic retail and leisure destinations.
“We are confident that the proposed plans, that have been well received by both the local community and businesses, will catapult it into the twenty first century. Hot on the heels of the completion of the Elizabeth Line, that has supported 73 million journeys to the district since opening, the partnership between NWEC and WCC will improve and enhance the visitor experience from the moment our visitors arrive on Oxford Street.
“Alongside ambitious mixed-use developments, experiential retail and immersive leisure offerings, an improved public realm is the missing centre piece of the jigsaw that will ensure long term sustainable growth.”
Published: 12 September 2023