Oxford Street District plans set for green light

Thu, 14/02/2019

Plans to future-proof Oxford Street District are set to get the go ahead following a recent public consultation.

Westminster City Council’s Cabinet is expected to decide at its meeting on 25th February to approve changes to the draft Place Strategy and give the green light for proposals that will deliver much needed work to improve the district. A recent consultation showed strong support for the council’s fresh approach with design and modelling work planned to start in Spring and physical works getting underway in Autumn 2019, subject to relevant approvals.   

The overall ambition is to strengthen the world-renowned status of the entire Oxford Street District to ensure it will be a great place to live, work and visit and to secure its long-term future. The draft Place Strategy promoted a set of 15 overarching place-based principles and 96 projects to help deliver the ambition for the district. The

Council has already set aside £150m of funds from its capital budget to kickstart world class improvements throughout the area.

Cllr Richard Beddoe, Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning, said:

“As proud custodians of the Oxford Street District, the council is determined to make sure it retains the crown as the nation’s high street in the face of huge challenges and online competition.

“We’ve carefully looked at every response received and made changes to the strategy as a result. We’ve always said that we will listen carefully to those who live, work, visit or have a business in the district so we develop the best scheme that will future proof this vital and iconic part of Westminster and the West End.

“Whilst there’s broad support for our approach, we will keep the dialogue and discussions going through any future technical stages required to deliver our ambitious strategy.”

The Place Strategy was subject to public consultation from 6th November 2018 to 13th December 2018 and the analysis of the responses has been shared with the Cabinet in order to inform a decision about what will happen next. The relevant Cabinet meeting will take place on 25th February and the supporting papers have been published on the council’s website from 14th February, including a full consultation analysis.

The headlines of the consultation are as follows:

  • There was a total of 2,154 completed consultation responses
  • 66% of overall respondents said they supported the Place Strategy principles
  • 73% of resident respondents said they supported the Place Strategy principles
  • The majority of stakeholders (resident and business groups) responded positively to the strategy.

As a result, the Cabinet is being asked to acknowledge the results of the public consultation and to approve the updates to the Place Strategy and Delivery Plan as a result of the feedback. The most frequent comments provided via the consultation survey were:

  • Support for the district wide approach
  • Support for effective traffic management and for the strategy to strengthen related proposals
  • Support for initiatives that would improve air quality and for the strategy to be stronger on this issue
  • Support for the Marble Arch proposals to be more ambitious
  • Requests for more detail related to design / traffic management overall and in key locations
  • Concerns raised regarding management of the district and requests for more work to be done
  • As a result, the following changes have been made to the draft strategy:
  • The principles have been revised and presented to emphasise that all are equally important
  • Further information has been added to the elements section, particularly improving air quality

Minor amendments have been made to the example projects and the delivery plan – however, all comments received relating to these would be taken to any detailed design phases alongside ongoing dialogue with local groups and businesses

There were many comments from the consultation regarding specific issues and spaces and they have all been reviewed and collated for future reference (and have also been summarised in the consultation report). Subject to approval by Cabinet, detailed design work will take place over the Spring and Summer with future consultations expected at some key locations in the future, for example where changes to traffic would be required. The Cabinet is also set to approve ongoing engagement in proposed zonal working groups as modelling and detailed design work progresses.

The 25th February Cabinet report also sets out information relating to the developing management plan and future governance and engagement. The Cabinet is also being asked to note the development of a business case to support the Council’s £150m investment which will be presented at the next meeting (on 8th April 2019) and that will set out an even more detailed delivery schedule.  

The Cabinet report (and appendices) can be found at https://committees.westminster.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=130&MId=4647                                                                                            

Last updated: 14 February 2019