Reinventing the nation’s high street
This includes plans for a temporary Marble Arch visitor attraction and a long term and over-arching new framework to kickstart a reimagined Oxford 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, including proposals for a bold, new ‘Marble Arch Hill’ temporary visitor attraction at Marble Arch to be a catalyst for Oxford Street’s climb back to global acclaim and success
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 proposed new `Marble Arch Hill’ temporary visitor attraction to enhance the historic Marble Arch, bringing the beauty and tranquillity of Hyde Park a little closer to neighbouring Oxford Street. Subject to attaining planning approval, it has been estimated that the 25m high attraction could be enjoyed by up to 200,000 people whilst it is operational, subject to whatever Covid restrictions remain at the time. This would support millions of pounds in incremental spending for the local economy across the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in the West End
- 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
The first phase of the overarching OSD strategy 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 proposed works are likely to impact traffic flow on Oxford Street between Regent Street and Marble Arch during the period from the end of February to the end of March 2021.
The following diversions are proposed:
- footway enhancements: extended pedestrian space and footways
- ‘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
- ‘urban theatre’: spaces for outdoor performance, features that create a sense of enlivenment, with ‘smart’ technology-based installations, and concept lighting
- 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
- some traffic diversions would be required during the works, but disruption will be minimised
- WCC and its partners will also review all street signs, bollards, and pedestrian guardrails, and all redundant or unnecessary clutter would be removed or consolidated wherever possible
- West Oxford Street: Marble Arch islands, Bird Street junction, Davies Street junction, outside Selfridges
- Oxford Circus: Hills Place junction, Great Titchfield Street/ Market Place, Winsley Street junction, Old Cavendish Street junction, Holles Street junction
- East Oxford Street: Newman Street junction, Rathbone Place junction and Soho Square (north)
- 8 March 2021 until 21 March 2021 – eastbound closure with diversion in place
- 22 March 2021 until 1 April 2021 – westbound closure with diversions in place
- work will also begin 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.
Getting in touch
If you have any questions on the over-arching framework or Marble Arch Hill 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]