Oxford Street could be closed to traffic by 2018
It’s been talked about for decades but it looks like premier London shopping destination Oxford Street could finally be pedestrianised by Christmas 2018 if plans unveiled Monday get public approval.
At least part of it could. The Mayor London and Westminster City Council have unveiled a plan to remove all motorised vehicles from Oxford Circus down to Selfridges. Traffic going across Oxford Street to and from the side roads would also be banned.
The plans would also include raising the roads to pavement level to improve access generally, new seating, and the commission of public art for the new pedestrian-only area, as well as new taxi ranks and other works in nearby streets.
There will be a public consultation until December 17 and if the plans get the go-ahead, then the reborn Oxford Street could be unveiled at the same time as the Elizabeth Line tube expansion opens in December next year. That opening is expected to add 120,000 more visitors to Oxford Street every day.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called the new plans “a hugely exciting moment for the capital” and said pedestrianisation would make the area “substantially cleaner and safer for everyone, creating one of the finest public spaces in the world.”
Not that the transformation would be smooth and easy to implement as there are various logistical issues to overcome, including access to stores for deliveries, where exactly the large amount of public transport traffic currently clogging up Oxford Street would go (with adjacent streets already heavily congested) and shoppers no longer being able exit the front door of a store and hop straight onto a bus or into a taxi.
But the general response to the news seems to have been positive with New West End Company CEO Jace Tyrrell calling it “a game-changing transformation of Oxford Street”. However, Tyrell said that the improvements “must also be capitalised on across Regent Street, Bond Street and the wider West End” as well.
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