Have your say on the transformation of Oxford Street

Closed 18 Jun 2017

Opened 24 Apr 2017

Overview

"Oxford Street is one of the best known shopping destinations in the world.  Around half a million people visit or work in the street and surrounding area every day and thousands of people and families live close by. 

Oxford Street is already very busy and growth in London’s population and economy will bring even more people to the area. 

There are lots of issues.  Pedestrian spaces can get crowded. We recognise there is a road safety problem and air quality in the area is poor.  Significant congestion delays passengers using buses and taxis.

Unless we take action now, these issues will worsen as London continues to grow, threatening the success of Oxford Street and the surrounding district.

The introduction of the Elizabeth line in late 2018 provides a once in a generation opportunity to tackle these challenges and make the district into the world’s best outdoor shopping experience and an unrivalled place to live, work and visit.

Transport for London (TfL), Westminster City Council and the Mayor of London are working closely together to transform Oxford Street and the surrounding streets. 

We want to create a better environment, address poor air quality, support its cultural heartland and thriving business district and deliver improved neighbourhoods.

We want to know your thoughts before we make any decisions. We would like to hear from everyone who visits, works or lives in the area so please get involved in this important consultation."

Cllr Robert Davis MBE DL, Westminster City Council, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Heritage
Valerie Shawcross CBE, Deputy Mayor for Transport 
Mike Brown MVO, Commissioner, Transport for London

About our consultation

Although our vision for Oxford Street applies to its entire length, any work would need to be done in phases.

That is why this consultation is concerned with the transformation between Orchard Street and Oxford Circus (as indicated in the map below).  For simplicity, we will refer to this section simply as ‘Oxford Street’ in this consultation. 

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Click here for a PDF copy of the above map

Our consultation describes why we believe it is so important to develop wide-ranging improvements to Oxford Street and its surrounding district. Rather than providing a fully developed set of proposals, we would like to explain our initial thoughts on what transforming Oxford Street could mean for bus services and taxis, as well as on what provisions could be made for cyclists and freight. 

We will describe, in as much detail as we are able to at this early stage, what impacts and benefits the transformation of Oxford Street might have.  We will also describe how a transformed Oxford Street might look and feel in the short term and will ask for your thoughts as to how the area could be developed in the longer term.

If you would like to go straight to a particular topic please use the links below.

What is the Transformation of Oxford Street?
Why transform Oxford Street?
Walking on Oxford Street
Accessing Oxford Street by bus
Cycling on Oxford Street
Accessing Oxford Street by taxi
Making and taking deliveries on Oxford Street
Impacts of the transformation of Oxford Street
How to reply or find out more
Next steps

How to reply
We would like to know whether you support the transformation of Oxford Street in principle.  We would also like to know if you have any concerns with our initial thoughts for what changes could be made for buses, taxis and others. Our consultation questionnaire provides space for you to record your thoughts on any issue.  The deadline for comments is Sunday 18 June 2017.

Once this consultation has closed we will consider all of the responses and decide whether to proceed to the next stage of the project. If we do, we will develop a more defined set of proposals based on your feedback. We will hold a second consultation in the autumn of 2017 to seek your comments on these proposals. 

What is the transformation of Oxford Street?

TfL and Westminster City Council are working together to transform Oxford Street into a world-class public place. The heart of our approach is to deliver improvements that benefit people rather than traffic.

Addressing the issues
A critical part of any transformation of Oxford Street is a reduction of traffic volumes.  We plan to improve the look and feel of the area and create a more pedestrian-friendly environment. This would also address poor air quality, deliver improved neighbourhoods for residents and support the West End’s economy.

We believe that this would require a significant increase in the amount of space provided for pedestrians and a radical reduction in the amount of traffic using Oxford Street, with associated measures to protect the surrounding district. That said, there may be additional or alternative measures which could complement any physical changes we make to the street. We would like to hear any ideas which might improve the experience of using Oxford Street and the surrounding district.

We want to hear from as many people as possible with their views on how we can transform this iconic street.


Crowding on Oxford Street

Creating proposals for the Oxford Street district
With your feedback, we hope to create proposals for the Oxford Street district that would:

  • Radically reduce the volume of traffic on Oxford Street
  • Manage the traffic in the surrounding area to minimise any negative impacts
  • Support future growth and economic activity
  • Reduce crowding on Oxford Street
  • Address very poor air quality
  • Ensure the area remains accessible by public transport services
  • Create a new world-class public space for those who live in, work or visit the area
  • Improve road safety for all
  • Support businesses throughout the district, enabling economic growth and creating jobs
  • Create innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors to deliver the transformation
  • Provide the commercial accommodation necessary to meet economic and employment growth targets

The transformation of Oxford Street is part of a wider package of improvements for the West End which would support the proposed improvements on Hanover Square, Cavendish Square, Bond Street, Baker Street / Gloucester Place and Tottenham Court Road / Gower Street, as well as improvements for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the district.

Why transform Oxford Street

The Oxford Street district is at the heart of the West End. In addition to its cultural significance, the West End is a powerhouse for the UK economy, generating three per cent of the country’s economic output.

If we want the West End to retain its national and international competitiveness, and to continue to contribute so strongly to the nation’s economy, we must improve the experience of using the area for everyone.

Pedestrian Crowding
The attractiveness of the Oxford Street area as a retail destination and business hub, and the wider area as a home for a thriving local community means that it is already very busy.  It can become so busy that pedestrians can sometimes be forced into the road to continue their journey, or choose to avoid the area entirely.

Disabled and older people find Oxford Street very challenging to use because it is so crowded.  It cannot be right that the UK’s most iconic shopping street is not easily accessible to everyone.

London’s population is now at a record high of 8.6 million and is forecast to grow to 10 million by 2031.  In addition, there are expected to be around 2.2 million jobs in central London by 2031 and this could further increase the pressure on Oxford Street and the district.  Taking into account increases in visitor numbers, unacceptable levels of crowding on Oxford Street will increase by 72 per cent by 2021 and 100 per cent by 2031 (compared to 2015).

The introduction of the Elizabeth Line 
In late 2018 the Elizabeth line will open, bringing new high-frequency rail services to Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road stations.  The trains and stations will provide full access for disabled people. The new services will increase the number of people arriving by train and the ease with which they can travel to Oxford Street from outside London, so therefore the overall number of people using Oxford Street will increase.  There could be a 50 per cent increase in the number of people using Bond Street station, for example.  Passengers travelling from Reading station via the Elizabeth line could reach Bond Street station in less than an hour.

Air Quality and road safety
We recognise that air quality in the Oxford Street area is a serious and pressing issue.  Air pollution limits are regularly exceeded, despite improvements in the number of low-emission buses and taxis operating in London and efforts by businesses to consolidate or re-time deliveries to reduce their impact. Both TfL and Westminster Council are committed to tackling air quality as a top priority.

Road safety is a significant concern.  From June 2013 to May 2016 there were around 60 collisions a year on Oxford Street which resulted in a personal injury.

The West End Partnership has set ambitious aspirations for economic and employment growth for the district.  This will require additional commercial space.  We need to ensure that we have the policies in place to enable this to be provided but in ways that enhance, rather than detract from the district’s appeal.

We believe we must address these issues to improve the quality of the environment in the Oxford Street district and ensure its continued success for all. 

Doing nothing would mean that crowding, road safety, congestion and air quality would simply continue to get worse. 

Delivering our vision for Oxford Street would involve a number of challenges however. 

The following sections describe some of these challenges for those who live, work or visit the area, including users of buses, taxis, cyclists and freight and servicing vehicles.  It also outlines our initial thoughts as to how we might best address them. Most importantly, it sets out how you can give your views.

Walking on Oxford Street

We want to significantly improve the experience of using Oxford Street for pedestrians.  This section describes how a transformed Oxford Street might look and feel for pedestrians.

Reducing traffic levels on Oxford Street would allow us to give more space to pedestrians and reduce overcrowding. The extent to which we could transform Oxford Street would depend on what changes for buses, taxis, freight and cyclists.

In the short term we would make changes to the look and feel of Oxford Street ahead of the opening of the Elizabeth line in late 2018.

We would like to ‘de-clutter’ the area to create as much space as possible. We could also explore temporary planting or public art.

Change in the longer term
We would like to know your thoughts about what more permanent and genuinely transformational changes we could make to the look and feel of Oxford Street in the longer term. What features of a transformed Oxford Street would be most important to you? Our consultation questionnaire includes a question in which you can record your comments about any issue. Please do let us know your thoughts.

Accessing Oxford Street by bus

Currently, Oxford Street is restricted to buses and taxis only from 07:00 – 19:00, Monday to Saturday. 

The bus is a hugely important and easily accessible means of transport, and the buses that use Oxford Street provide links to a wide range of destinations beyond. 

The number of buses which currently use Oxford Street is a reflection of the very significant demand to travel to and through the area by bus – 41 per cent of trips on Oxford Street are by bus. At the same time however, this volume of vehicles restricts the space available for pedestrians who use Oxford Street in even greater numbers – 56 per cent of trips within Oxford Street are made on foot.

Earlier in 2017, TfL held a consultation on proposals for changes to the bus network in central London, including to a number of routes which currently use Oxford Street.  These proposals will have the effect of reducing the number of buses that use Oxford Street by around 40 per cent. TfL has published a Consultation Report, outlining the issues raised in the consultation. For further details, please go to tfl.gov.uk/west-end-bus-changes.

Possible further changes to buses
We have considered whether we could make further changes to the eight routes that will use Oxford Street once these changes have taken effect. 

If we made no further changes to the bus network in the Oxford Street area the links currently provided for bus passengers would be maintained.  However, our ability to make transformative changes to the area would be extremely limited as we would need to maintain a carriageway along Oxford Street at all times for buses.

Removing buses would maximise our ability to transform Oxford Street, since it would provide more space for people. 

We could divert some buses to a suitable alternative route such as Wigmore Street, which is not currently served by bus.  We would need to consider what mitigating measures might be necessary to protect those living and working in the wider district and to ensure traffic could continue to flow smoothly.

New start and finish points for buses
We are reviewing whether it might be feasible to create new points, potentially in the areas surrounding Marble Arch or Oxford Circus if sufficient space can be found, where buses would end or begin their journey.  Passengers who currently travel through Oxford Street may need to change buses.  This would reduce the accessibility of the Oxford Street area by bus and would make travelling more difficult for some people.  That said, the new bus Hopper fare would mean that passengers using Oyster cards would not need to pay any extra fare, providing they change bus within one hour.

Night buses
We will also need to consider what changes, if any, should be made to the night buses that currently use Oxford Street.  Allowing night buses to use Oxford Street could have implications for transforming the street as we would need to maintain a carriageway along Oxford Street at all times for buses.  Alternatively, we could make the same changes described earlier, and divert night buses to an alternative east-west route.

Cycling on Oxford Street

Compared to pedestrians or bus passengers, very few cyclists currently use Oxford Street, although there are no restrictions to prevent them from doing so.  Currently, only one per cent of trips on Oxford Street are made by bike.  Those roads running parallel to Oxford Street, particularly Brook Street, Grosvenor Street and Wigmore Street tend to be preferred routes.

We have considered what the transformation of Oxford Street could mean for cyclists and want to know what you think.  

Potential changes for cyclists
We could restrict access to Oxford Street for buses and taxis but continue to allow cyclists to use it at any time.  We would need to consider how practical and safe it would be for very large numbers of pedestrians, particularly  visually impaired people, to share a space with cyclists.

Another possibility might be to change the current arrangements and allow cyclists to use Oxford Street at night when the number of pedestrians in the area is lower, possibly from 22:00 – 10:00. 

While this would improve our opportunity to transform Oxford Street it would restrict the availability of routes for cyclists and would mean that the number of cyclists using alternative east-west routes would increase.  We would need to consider whether it would be desirable to provide new cycling facilities on these alternative routes.  We would also need to consider how cyclists would use Oxford Street at night, and specifically whether it would be necessary to segregate cyclists and pedestrians.

The third possibility would be to restrict cyclists from using Oxford Street at all times.  Depending on our proposals for the bus network and for taxis, this would maximise our opportunity to transform Oxford Street. 

As with a day-time restriction however, we would need to consider whether it would be desirable to provide new cycling facilities on alternative east-west routes.

Pedicabs
A particular issue for Oxford Street and the West End is the prevalence of pedicabs, which have a disproportionate effect on traffic congestion.

Currently no public bodies have the regulatory or licensing authority necessary to improve safety or reduce fare abuses prevalent among some pedicab drivers. TfL and Westminster City Council recognise the issue and are working with the Government for the powers we need to tackle the problem. In the meantime, we will continue to work together to run operations to tackle dangerous and antisocial behaviour from pedicab drivers.

Accessing Oxford street by taxi

Currently, taxis (black cabs) can access Oxford Street at any time.  Private hire vehicles can use Oxford Street only from 19:00 – 07:00 Monday to Saturday.

The taxi is also a significant method of transport to and within Oxford Street and the surrounding area, making up almost a third of the traffic on Oxford Street. 

Taxis are a particularly important for those with restricted mobility, shoppers and tourists, and the taxi trade is an iconic feature of London and the West End.  That said, despite making up almost a third of the traffic, taxis account for only two per cent of trips on Oxford Street.

Growth in private hire vehicle numbers
As London has grown over time so have the number of private hire vehicles operating in the capital. For example, in 2009/10 there were 59,191 private hire drivers licensed to operate in London.  There are now over 117,000 private hire drivers operating in the capital. 

Possible changes for taxis
Removing access for taxis would increase the extent to which we could transform Oxford Street, although this could also have implications for the accessibility of Oxford Street and for traffic flow in the surrounding area.

If we made no changes to the current arrangements direct access to Oxford Street for black cabs would be maintained. It would, however, greatly limit our ability to transform the area. 

If we restricted access for taxis and private hire vehicles during the day, and allowed night-time access either to the full length of Oxford Street, or only to particular sections of it, we could provide pedestrians with much more space. This would, however, reduce the accessibility of Oxford Street by taxi during the day. 

If we restricted access for taxis and private hire vehicles at all times, we could provide pedestrians with much more space. Again, this would have implications for the accessibility of Oxford Street by taxi and potentially for traffic flow in the surrounding area.

Creating new ranks and crossing points
In each case, we would look to identify new taxi ranks in the surrounding area in discussion with the taxi trade, and this could enable passengers to access Oxford Street by taxi, with a short walk. 

Should we propose to restrict access to Oxford Street for all taxis we would consider whether it was possible to establish designated crossing points. These would enable taxis to head north to south (or vice versa), preventing long diversions to bypass Oxford Street. 

Making and taking deliveries on Oxford Street

As an established retail and business hub it is extremely important that businesses based on Oxford Street can receive deliveries and be serviced efficiently. 

At the same time we recognise the importance of ensuring that local residents are protected from excessive noise, pollution and congestion. Any proposals must ensure that freight and servicing vehicles are able to continue to access the Oxford Street district efficiently.

Currently, freight vehicles can access Oxford Street to make deliveries at any time, but the majority of activity takes place between 22:00 and 10:00.

Some businesses on Oxford Street already have arrangements in place to make or take deliveries via the side roads nearby Oxford Street, or to loading facilities at the rear. 

Possible changes for freight access
Removing access for freight would increase the extent to which we could transform Oxford Street, although this could also have implications for the delivery of goods or for traffic flow in the surrounding area.

If we make no changes to the current arrangements, direct access to Oxford Street for deliveries would be maintained. It would, however, greatly limit our ability to transform the area.

If we restricted access for freight vehicles during the day, and allowed night-time access either to the full length of Oxford Street, or only to particular sections of it, we could provide pedestrians with much more space. This would, however, reduce the time that certain businesses would be able to receive deliveries.  Businesses may need to re-time when they receive deliveries.

We will continue to work with businesses to find new ways of improving the efficiency of deliveries and servicing, while reducing the impact of these journeys on those visiting, living or working in the Oxford Street district. There have been similar schemes that have successfully reduced the number of vehicles which deliver to shops on Regent Street, and reduced the number of vehicles collecting waste from businesses on Bond Street.

Possible new crossing points
If we propose to restrict access to Oxford Street for all freight vehicles we would consider whether it would be possible to establish designated crossing points. These would enable freight and servicing vehicles to head north to south (or vice versa).

Impacts of the transformation of Oxford Street

The transformation of Oxford Street could mean that traffic in the area changes.  We have built a traffic model and are using it to help us forecast what impacts the transformation of Oxford Street might cause.  Although our work is at an early stage we want to share our progress with you now. 

Building a traffic model
Our model has been built using data obtained from surveys of recent traffic levels and trip patterns. The model takes into account forecast growth in London’s population and economy in the coming years, and how this might affect traffic levels in central London in the future. The model also includes the effects of approved transport schemes which might have an effect on traffic patterns.

In the coming years, irrespective of any changes we make to address the current challenges in Oxford Street, the population of our city will grow, and there will be increasing pressure on London’s road network and on public transport services. At the same time, we know that changes will be made to the highway system in central London and elsewhere, and that traffic patterns will change.

The effects of the transformation of Oxford Street
On top of these changes, the Oxford Street transformation is expected to have some further impact on traffic conditions. The extent to which traffic patterns would change with the transformation of Oxford Street would depend on what specific changes we propose and also on how traffic responds to the wider changes to the highway system in London or other developments which are already planned to be implemented in the surrounding area. We will share more details on the likely impacts of the Oxford Street changes as our proposals develop.

We would like to know if you have any initial thoughts or concerns.  Our consultation questionnaire includes a question in which you can write down any comments you have about any aspect of what we have set out so far.

How to reply and find out more

You can respond to our consultation in the following ways:

If you would prefer to set your thoughts out in writing, please do so to our Freepost or email address.

The deadline for comments is Sunday 18 June 2017.

Any questions?

We are holding a number of ‘roadshow’ events where TfL and Westminster City Council staff will be on hand to answer any questions. All venues are wheelchair accessible. Grosvenor Chapel does have a ramp, but access in the venue may be difficult for those using larger wheelchairs or mobility scooters.

Grosvenor Chapel, Garden Room, 24 S Audley Street, London, W1K 2PA
Saturday 10 June 2017, 11:00 – 16:00
Monday 12 June 2017, 12:00 – 19:00

Wigmore Hall, Bechstein Room, 36 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 2BP
Saturday 10 June 2017, 11:00 –  16:00
Friday 16 June 2017, 10:00 – 16:00

Regent Hall, Salvation Army, Church and Community Centre, 275 Oxford Street, London, W1C 2DJ
Main Hall, Saturday 10 June 2017, 11:00 – 16:00
Oxford Street room, Wednesday 14 June 2017, 12:00 – 19:00

Next steps

Once consultation closes on Sunday 18 June 2017 we will begin considering all of the responses we receive. We will publish a Consultation Report, listing all of the issues raised and providing our response to each of these, later in the summer. We will use your feedback to help decide whether we should progress to the next stage and develop a more defined set of proposals for the transformation of Oxford Street, and if so, we will hold a further consultation on these proposals in the autumn.

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • Anyone from any background

Interests

  • Walking
  • Air Quality
  • London
  • Oxford Street
  • Urban Realm