Reinventing the nation’s high street
Our plans will breathe a new lease of life into the Oxford Street District (OSD) so it will be world renowned as a great place to live, work and visit.
Exciting new plans to revive Oxford Street and the wider District
The new Oxford Street District (OSD) framework, developed with key strategic partners, will deliver:
- a bold new vision and framework to ensure the successful long-term future for the nation’s high street, as the greenest, smartest, most sustainable District of its kind anywhere in the world
- spades in the ground as part of an exciting package of interim support to aid post pandemic recovery in a comprehensive year of delivery
- restore the area as the must visit destination of choice for domestic and international visitors, when restrictions ease, as well as the place to start, grow and expand businesses
- a massive boost for the visitor economy with immediate improvements
The council’s Leader, Cllr Rachael Robathan, unveiled the blueprint to reinvent the high street for a post pandemic recovery and, crucially, for the longer term. The new framework builds on previous work and represents our significant commitment to the area. The plan was already in development pre-pandemic but now also responds to massive changes to shopping habits and working patterns, that have been accelerated by Covid-19.
It reimagines the nation’s favourite high street through the following themes; greener, smarter, future and together to create a globally competitive centre for innovative retail, commercial activities, culture and living.
Projects that are underway
We have already committed £150m to kickstart the OSD programmes and attract inward investment, taking full advantage of the Elizabeth Line opening in 2022 and the area’s links to the wider West End and beyond. It will be a year of delivery for Oxford Street with a large number of immediate projects getting under way, including:
- encouraging a wider range of businesses through a sustained change towards forward-looking brands for a more varied range of shops, including pop-ups, offices, restaurants and cultural or leisure activities
- a new 'Marble Arch Mound' and art exhibition temporary visitor attraction to enhance the area and attract tens of thousands of visitors
- work on a proposed range of intensive, interim improvements on Oxford Street to deliver additional pedestrian space, pop up parks, new lighting, landscaping, greening projects and cultural space to create an attractive, COVID-secure, environment for visitors post lockdown
The First Phase: Temporary Public Realm Improvement Scheme
Work has started on the first phase of the overarching OSD strategy which involves plans to install a temporary scheme on Oxford Street, with the aim of showcasing innovation, sustainability, culture and diversity. Quick-win interventions that could be delivered by late Spring 2021 present an exciting opportunity to test and experiment, as the first step towards the longer-term revitalisation of the district.
The temporary interventions could reinvigorate the nation’s high street for new patterns of use, safely welcoming people back to the district post-lockdown. We plan to increase footway space on Oxford Street to enable safe, distanced access to the district. The proposals include complementary streetscape changes designed to improve the look and feel of the area with additional greening and seating. Space to play is also planned, to surprise and delight people returning to district. These proposed and temporary interventions are designed to be exciting and imaginative, building anticipation for future stages of the project.
- the footway enhancements: extended pedestrian space and footways have now been completed
- ‘street dressing’: a significant increase in plants and green areas, new contemporary seating, particularly in ‘pocket’ spaces along the street, colourful, themed banners which will be designed to create a sense of place and aesthetic continuity - works are currently ongoing to be completed by Summer
- concept lighting to be completed by June
- trial installations would be modular in design to enable them to be moved when necessary, once footfall increases on Oxford Street
- the temporary footway widening could provide an opportunity to trial a variety of interventions
- the temporary scheme would be delivered via a Temporary Traffic Order (TTO) for 18 months
- upon commencement of any scheme we will garner feedback from stakeholders during this period, to collectively assess which changes should be considered as part of the longer-term plans for the district
Changes to traffic direction on Berners Street and Newman Street and temporary road closures
We are delivering significant improvements to pedestrian safety and the public realm in the Oxford Street District. This project includes changes to Berners Street and Newman Street.
Changes will be made to the traffic direction on two streets to help improve pedestrian safety and the experience for cyclists travelling through the area, improve the traffic flow in the wider district, reduce congestion, and facilitate further enhancements to Berners Street, Newman Street and Eastcastle Street.
The changes are as follows:
- Berners Street will switch from one-way in a southbound direction to one-way in a northbound direction
- Newman Street will switch from one-way in a northbound direction to one-way in a southbound direction
These changes will allow us to monitor and assess the changes, and listen to feedback from stakeholders, before any changes are considered for permanent inclusion.
In preparation for the change in traffic direction on Berners Street and Newman Street, some temporary road closures are required:
6 to 24 October:
- Berners Street will be closed
- See the map below for route diversions
23 and 24 October:
- Wardour Street at Noel Street junction. Northbound traffic will need to follow diversions along Noel Street and Poland Street
- Eastcastle Street between Wells Street and Newman Street
- Newman Street at Oxford Street. Please note: when this junction reopens, it will be a south bound-only route
- See the map below for route diversions
24 October, onwards
Please see the map below for the new traffic direction from 24 October once works are complete:
Diversions will be in place and traffic marshals will be onsite at all junction closures to assist with any questions.
Update on the Oxford Street District programme, 14 September
Statement from Councillor Matthew Green, Cabinet Member for Business, Licensing and Planning
We remain committed to supporting the future success of the nation’s favourite high street and its surrounding neighbourhoods. As everyone knows, the case for investing in this area is even stronger following the pandemic and we remain focused on doing everything we can to deliver on this alongside our partners.
We have already made huge strides in delivering some real improvements to Oxford Street and the surrounding district by working closely with the local community, including new greening and seating on Oxford Street itself, the exciting work on the new Soho photography quarter and improvements for cyclists and pedestrians across the whole area. Independent analysis has shown that by 2030 the Council’s vision for the district, including the £150m Council investment, could deliver an uplift of over £2bn in economic value creation and over 30,000 additional jobs that will benefit local communities.
However, we have always been clear that all improvements must benefit our residents as well as businesses and visitors and we want to make sure we consult openly and fully with local groups to ensure that their views can shape any of our proposals or schemes. Having listened to residents and reviewed the cost effectiveness of the proposal for a pilot for the Oxford Circus piazzas, we have decided that it’s better to move forward with a focus on permanent schemes.
Therefore, the temporary piazzas previously planned to open at Oxford Circus later this year will not now go ahead, along with all associated enabling street works. We’ll be focusing on engaging with residents and other stakeholders on potential permanent schemes for piazzas at Oxford Circus, along with associated enabling works. We will shortly share the engagement and consultation approach and timetable but in moving forward we are committed to meeting key tests of a clear business case, meaningful engagement, and complete clarity on impact on residents and costs.
Getting in touch
If you have any questions on the over-arching framework or Marble Arch Mound installation, please contact the team by emailing: [email protected]
If you have any comments on the temporary public realm improvements get in touch with our Stakeholder Engagement team by sending an email to: [email protected]