Oxford Street transformation

Oxford Street transformation

Where We Stand

We, Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville, West End Labour candidates, continue to oppose the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street because residents’ concerns have not been answered by Westminster Council’s leaders, by Transport for London (TfL) nor by the Mayor of London.

Westminster Council are entirely responsible for Oxford Street. The plans could never have got this far in the face of residents’ fears without Conservative Council leaders, including Nickie Aiken and Robert Davis and their colleagues, fully supporting it.

We oppose the plans; they should be paused and all options remain on the table.

The West End Labour team believe there has been:

  1. insufficient information or planning on traffic displacement,
  2. a lack of ideas on how those with limited mobility will continue to enjoy Oxford Street
  3. uncertainty on safety on Oxford Street at night.
  4. late night visitors to Soho needing buses would have to walk a few blocks north past Oxford Street increasing potential related ASB into Fitzrovia and other wards.
  5. the consultations appear to residents to be rushed and unprofessional. This has made residents fear they were not being listened to.
  6. ideas to improve Oxford Street need to include the whole area to reduce traffic, including how they could enhance life Fitzrovia, Mayfair and Soho and beyond.

West End Labour’s position has consistently put residents of the West End first.

For years of Conservative rule in Westminster residents have not been allowed a voice and the Council has had far too close a relationship with powerful property developers. The Conservatives had years to oppose pedestrianisation and put forward alternatives – and they have done nothing.

The West End Labour Team have been listening to residents for over 2 years, having thousands of conversations. We have consistently said we would oppose the plans if residents’ genuine fears about traffic displacement are not addressed; if those with limited mobility are not able to access Oxford Street fully and if ASB is not reduced. We have raised these issue for many months with TfL and the Mayor.

It is now time to pause the scheme and continue to listen to residents.

Failure to do so could ruin Oxford Street itself and the 1,000 businesses that are already threatened by out of town shopping malls and crippling rent and business rates.

Rushing could also ruin the wonderful character and lives of many in neighbouring areas of Fitzrovia, Soho and Mayfair who we seek to represent.

We have spoken to thousands of residents and they want less pollution, cleaner air, less traffic and fewer accidents for the whole area, not just moving traffic around.

We have consistently passed on these concerns to TfL and the Mayor.  If elected we will continue to put residents of Soho, Fitzrovia and Mayfair at the heart of decisions, not the big property developers.

Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville

Labour’s West End Ward Candidates


Getting answers from Transport for London

Our priority is to make the transformation of Oxford Street work for everyone – for residents, for businesses, for shoppers and for visitors. We also want more public toilets and more use of quieter, electric delivery vehicles. As ever, the ‘devil is in the detail’ and we look forward to seeing a practical and common sense plan that works. Until then, we will keep fighting to get the best deal for local residents and businesses.

Over recent months we have putting your questions to Transport for London to get answers on the key issues for local residents. Here is what you have asked (in bold) and what TfL say:

Wigmore Street/Welbeck St/Henrietta Place will need to take not only 24 hour bus routes, bus stops, and bus stands for other routes, but much of the other displaced traffic and, apparently, pavement widening. The TfL only solution to this is slow all the traffic down even more with more crossings on Wigmore St – which will just create a long line of standing traffic, polluting and congesting the surrounding areas- but this doesn’t come out on the modelling as that measures traffic volumes, not speed. So there may be less traffic on Wigmore than now, but only because it will be one long queue.

  • The journey time information provided in the consultation provides a proxy for speed and they indicate that there will be some changes to journey times, both positively as well as negatively. There will be some increases to journey times eastbound on Wigmore Street between Portman Square to Wimpole Street and the longer journey eastbound from Edgware Road/Seymour St to Mortimer Street/Great Portland Street.
  • Assignment modelling indicates that as a result of these longer journey times on Wigmore Street (eastbound), no additional vehicles will be attracted to Wigmore Street eastbound or westbound – when considering the net flow in both directions. (Net flow needs to be considered as a result of changing one way sections of road to two way).
  • In the westbound direction there is expected to be no change to the journey time between Wimpole Street and Portman Square on Wigmore Street. There is expected to be a reduction in the journey time from Margaret Street/Great Portland Street to Edgware Road/Seymour Street this is a result of simplifying the operation around Cavendish Square, converting the one-way eastbound between Wimpole Street and Regent Street to two-way operation.
  • These modelling outputs are available for your review on the consultation website at https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/oxford-street/.
  • In terms of air quality, modelling undertaken by independent consultants shows that air quality on Wigmore Street and Henrietta Place is expected to slightly improve should our proposals go ahead.  The two receptor locations on Henrietta Place show a low to very low (-2.2 to -0.2 μg/m3) reduction in Annual Mean NO2 concentration.
  • There are 12 modelled receptors that are located on or adjacent to Wigmore Street, 9 of these show a reduction, one an imperceptible change  and two show a slight increase in Annual Mean NO2 concentration.
  • The introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) by TfL in April 2019 means that all the sites we are looking at will have better air quality than currently. The Oxford Street proposals will introduce further changes with additional benefits in air quality at the majority of sites modelled. This is just the immediate sites, and overall the scheme sees far more sites improved than having any negative impact. ALL sites are better than 2016. Again, this information is available as part of the consultation material.
  • All of this would suggest that the levels of queuing are not expected to arise as a result of our proposals.  Should our plans proceed, however, we will be installing SCOOT systems and continue to monitor traffic patterns, enabling us to develop and optimise strategies to minimise congestion in the local area.
  • There are only two bus stops on Wigmore Street (one in each direction) and the two routes there have a combined  maximum frequency of 18 buses an hour in each direction, which reduces to 10 after 6.30pm and to just 4 an hour after midnight. There are no bus stands on Wigmore Street. There are bus stops and stands on Henrietta Place, but this is very close to Oxford St, and is almost entirely non residential and therefore the most suitable locations.

Why is it necessary to transform the Oxford Street district?

  • It is estimated up to 500,000 people already use Oxford Circus station every day and the number of people coming in and out of Bond Street station is likely to increase by 30 per cent when the Elizabeth line opens in December 2018.

What is being proposed?

  • The guiding principle has been that any improvements to Oxford
    Street should not be at the cost of surrounding residential streets and the
    whole district must benefit.
  • The Mayor is looking at improving Oxford Street in stages, starting with
    what we are calling Oxford Street West. We are proposing removing all
    east-west traffic between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus with north south
    routes retained so traffic can move through the district.
  • The Mayor is considering whether the closure should be 24 hours or
    whether delivery and servicing vehicles should be allowed access overnight
    and have asked for people’s views about this.

Won’t this simply cause congestion and pollution elsewhere?

  • Only two bus routes will run through the district, a reduction of over 70 per cent from 2016.
  • Buses will run for just 220m on Wigmore Street, between Welbeck
    Street and Baker Street, and will be reduced to low flow overnight. There
    will be only one bus stop in each direction on Wigmore Street.
  • Buses will be the cleanest, quietest and greenest that TfL has.
  • Traffic on many streets will be unaffected, with decreases on some
    and slight increases on a minority. We have published expected journey times
    for each street.
  • Traffic is expected to reduce on Wigmore Street, even with the additional buses. These run at around one every four minutes in the peak in each direction (17 per hour) and one every fifteen minutes (four per hour) overnight in each direction

What will happen with pollution? 

  • Overall air quality will improve across the district
  • There will be some variations, with some sites improved further by
    the scheme, but at all sites looked at pollution would be improved in
    comparison to now.
  • The proposals include installing 100 air monitoring stations across the district
    so that, for the first time, we will have an accurate picture of what is
    happening, rather than the current estimates. This information will be
    available to everyone.

What are you going to do about deliveries to Oxford Street?

  • Very few businesses currently use Oxford St for deliveries and
    we’re looking at new loading bays in side streets.
  • There are only between 0 and 5 vehicles loading on Oxford Street West each hour, as the vast majority of activity already happens on side streets or at the rear of premises. Much of the night sees no loading activity at all.
  • The changes proposed mean that the maximum distance to a loading bay would be no more than 50 metres for almost all businesses.
  • The Mayor is working with the freight industry and businesses to reduce the overall number of deliveries to the district.

How will you make sure that the area is accessible to all?

  • The Elizabeth line stations at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road will be step free, along with the improved Tube stations.
  • Taxi ranks will be located no further than 200m from any point on Oxford Street West and be clearly visible. The total number of rank spaces in the area will increase by 25 per cent by 2020.
  • A better environment for all will include improvements to pedestrian surfaces, lighting, in-street information, way finding landmarks, seating, resting areas and meeting places.
  • Bus stops are currently, on average, 113m away from any point on Oxford Street West. The new scheme could see that increase to 300m, but many will be 200m and intensive work continues to make sure Oxford Street remains accessible for all.
  • At least 25 new pedestrian crossings will be installed, all of which will use energy-efficient LED lighting and have pedestrian countdown technology.
  • The Mayor is  working closely with a range of representative groups for older and disabled people to refine our plans.
  • The Mayor is  considering the feasibility of providing a further mobility service along Oxford Street and to/from local bus stops.

What will the impact be on parking and cycling?

  • There will have no impact on the supply of resident and motorcycle parking and will ensure that disabled parking is retained throughout the area
  • Cycling is very important and TfL is working up the detail ahead of a proposed consultation in 2018

What will you do to keep it attractive and safe?  

  • A comprehensive management plan will set out how we will deal with anti-social behaviour, licensing, street cleaning and enforcement issues, and work with partners to ensure that it is adequately funded.
  • Oxford Street is already a potential target for attack and the proposals are to make people safer.

Lost bus link from Queensway to Oxford Circus

  • The proposal for changes to bus services means that the 94 would end at Marble Arch, rather than continuing to Oxford Circus
  • It is hoped to run the 94 into Oxford Street West if we are able to locate a bus stand in North Row. If we can achieve this then the 94 will run very close to the pedestrianised area.
  • Either way, it will be possible to change for the 390 (with the new Hopper fare meaning it can be done on a single ticket) which will serve Oxford Circus after following its new route on Wigmore Street and Henrietta Place

What are the benefits of transformation?

  • The transformation will improve air quality across the district
  • Create beautiful, safe, accessible and inspiring public spaces to address some of the very serious and pressing current issues of poor road safety and air quality.
  • Make it much easier to walk and move throughout the whole area.
  • Equally protect and enhance the quality of life for residents in the area.
  • Support businesses to grow to create new jobs for the benefit of local people and all Londoners – keeping Oxford Street competitive.
  • Support the introduction of the Elizabeth line to the area.


Where we stand on the Mayor’s Proposals

Our priority is to make the transformation of Oxford Street work for everyone – for residents, for businesses, for shoppers and for visitors. We also want more public toilets and more use of quieter, electric delivery vehicles. As ever, the ‘devil is in the detail’ and we look forward to seeing a practical and common sense plan that works. Until then, we will keep fighting to get the best deal for local residents and businesses.

The opening of the Elizabeth Line at the end of 2018 will bring millions of new visitors to Oxford Street to shop, to work and to visit. The current state of Oxford Street with narrow, broken and cracked pavements, increasing pollution, a very high pedestrian accident record and an unattractive environment is not acceptable. Doing nothing is, therefore, not an option.

But this certainly does not mean that local residents and businesses should simply accept what the Council and TfL propose without questioning it thoroughly and very carefully. Residents are those who will be most affected by the changes and so residents need to be put first. Residents’ concerns about displaced traffic and increased pollution on residential streets must be answered. No ifs, not buts. The Council and TfL must show that these concerns are being addressed and ensure that the plans do not lead to the disruption, congestion, pollution and daily inconvenience that many residents fear.

It is for that reason that we have met TfL to insist that residents’ questions are answered. We will keep asking these questions until we get answers.

We have called for a street-by-street plan of of the changes so that residents and businesses can see how they will be affected. We want a big reduction in traffic, including buses. We want to see a dedicated transport service for the disabled and elderly so that they, too, can enjoy the new Oxford Street. And we want to see a plan for Wigmore Street and Henrietta Place which shows how buses can be accommodated without causing problems.