The row over Oxford Street has deepened after London mayor Sadiq Khan threatened to hold back funds for a new scheme, chastising Westminster City Council for “abandoning” pedestrianisation.
Westminster City Council is set to start working on alternative plans for Oxford Street after it pulled support for a vehicle-free shopping street in June, angering City Hall as it had already spent £8M on the project.
Despite Oxford Street experiencing illegal levels of air pollution on 127 days out of 159 since 1 January this year, Westminster City Council pulled support because 61% of residents opposed a vehicle ban.
Now Khan has warned funding will be withheld from any new ideas which do not meet his key criteria on air tackling quality, safety and overcrowding, and supporting tourism and Oxford Street’s economic value.
In a letter to council leader Nickie Aiken, Khan said blocking pedestrianisation had “torn up” the joint plan between City Hall, Transport for London (TfL) and the council, and left “real uncertainty” about what will replace it.
He said: “I have made it clear that Oxford Street and the West End are too important for me to walk away, but delivering meaningful change does require a partnership approach.
“As you are aware, TfL had set aside funds to proposals that meet the challenges outlined above and deliver what is needed for the long-term future of London and the West End.
“I have already invested more than £8m in good faith in this project and Londoners would expect me to be mindful of this in taking future decisions about investment in Westminster.”
Khan also threw doubt on whether the council could use £400,000 of TfL funding on its new proposal planned, as TfL had “questioned the value of any more strategy work”.
Westminster City Council’s cabinet will consider a timetable for alternative plans for Oxford Street on Monday.
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