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Westminster City Council working on alternative Oxford Street plan

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Westminster City Council has set out its next steps for making Oxford Street safer before the Elizabeth line opens later this year, after it blocked pedestrianisation plans.

Although a vehicle-free version of London’s most famous shopping street is “off the table for good”, Westminster City Council said it is working on alternative proposals to improve Oxford Street.

A council spokesperson said it hopes to secure £727,000 of funding for the plans, made up of a reallocation of £327,000 of council’s own revenue and £400,000 from the 2018/19 Local Implementation Plan (LIP) allocation.

Westminster City Council cabinet member Richard Beddoe said: “I would like to reiterate our absolute commitment to bringing forward ambitious plans that will improve and future proof Oxford Street and surrounding district for many generations to come.

“There is a necessity to vastly enhance the overall experience for residents, workers and those visiting the district and this will be the focus of the new project.”

Last month Westminster City Council rejected plans to take traffic off the road through Oxford Street West (between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus) after 61% of residents opposed the move.

At the time London mayor Sadiq Khan – a prominent supporter of the proposals – labelled Westminster City Council’s decision “a betrayal” for Londoners, as pedestrianising Oxford Street would have improved poor air quality.

A recent report by environmental technology firm Plume Lab showed that Oxford Street had breached legal air quality limits on 127 days out of 159 since 1 January this year.

The introduction of the Elizabeth line services from December is also expected to significantly increase the amount of people using Oxford Street, meaning the existing pavements will become more crowded.

Details of the pedestrianisation alternatives are not yet available but a timetable shows a “place-based strategy” will be created in September and put out for a public consultation in November.

The council’s cabinet will have to approve the plans at a meeting on Monday.

Any potential changes will be considered alongside safety measures.

Passenger numbers at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road stations will increase 17% and 37% respectively in December, and then 57% and 81% by 2021 when the Elizabeth line fully opens.

Timetable

Oxford Street improvements

July 2018: Westminster City Council will speak to residents on issues, priorities, vision and projects for the district.

September - October 2018: Preferred solutions will be drawn up.

November 2018:  Public consultation is held.

January 2019:  Adoption of the Oxford Street district place strategy and delivery plan by Cabinet.

Pre-Elizabeth Line safety improvements

June - August 2018: A scheme to improve safety ahead of the Elizabeth line opening will be developed.

September - October 2018: Construction work starts.

December 2018: The Elizabeth line part-opens.

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