£90m revamp to save Oxford Street from blight of tacky shops

 (Westminster Council)
(Westminster Council)

A major overhaul of Oxford Street has been given the green light with plans to reduce traffic and increase space for visitors now underway.

Westminster council signed off the first stage of funding for a £90million revamp of the rundown shopping district on Monday night.

The town hall hopes the makeover will mean the area delivers a “world class offer and experience” after becoming blighted by American-style sweet shops and souvenir stores in recent years.

The mile running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch will see wider pavements, redesigned crossings and more trees and plants in a bid to boost footfall.

Junctions, including at Oxford Circus, will be redesigned to create more space for shoppers and a dozen more pedestrian crossings are set be built.

Visitors will be encouraged to cycle to the area, with plans for increased parking for bikes and e-scooters on side streets.

There will also be three new, two-way, cycle crossing points along Oxford Street.

It is hoped the redesign will attract top brands back to the area after the shops it became known for, such as Topshop and House of Fraser, shutdown.

IKEA and HMV have already confirmed they will be opening in the street later this year.

But the council also acknowledged that a “challenging retail environment with increased competition and cost” means buildings are looking for alternative tenants.

Moco, a major new modern art museum, is being planned for the sprawling 1920s building opposite Marble Arch, while Pocket Planet has unveiled plans for Britain’s biggest indoor miniature world in a 30,000 sq ft space in a the street’s former New Look store.

Westminster council has agreed to fund £45million of the cost of the “once-in-a-lifetime” revamp.

The New West End Company, which represents 600 retail, restaurant and hotel businesses and property owners across the West End, will cover the other half.

On Monday the first £7million of funding was signed off.

Geoff Barraclough, Westminster’s cabinet member for planning, said: “After years of abandoned schemes, we are now about to finally get under way with a deliverable plan to breathe new life into Oxford Street.

“With the support of our partners at New West End Company, we now have a coalition of the council, retailers, landowners, and others in place to develop a practical but also ambitious plan.

“The West End constantly needs to adapt if it is to continue to be a draw to shoppers.

“The buzz is definitely back on Oxford Street.”

The local authority’s previous Conservative administration had earmarked £120million for the revamp.

However, the designs were revised when Labour took power last year after the party warned the council had “burned through £35 million” of the budget, including £6 million on the Marble Arch Mound fiasco.

Plans to fully pedestrianise the road were ditched after complaints from TfL.