Traffic in the West End ‘must be halved by 2020’
- JONATHAN PRYNN AND CLARE HUTCHISON
- Tuesday 31 May 2016
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Traffic in the West End must be halved by 2020 to clean up the filthy air in Europe’s premier shopping district, a leading business group said today.
The New West End Company, which represents traders in Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, said the target for “radical” reduction was vital.
Oxford Street has one of the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution in the world, with concentrations recorded at above 200 micrograms per cubic metre already this year. The legal limit is 18 such episodes a year.
Chief executive Jace Tyrrell said: “Everyone recognises that air quality is one of our top issues, it is consistently bad and it has got to be addressed. Our members employ 150,000 staff in the West End, it’s about them, it’s about their customers and it’s about the reputation of London across the world.
“We’ve got Crossrail coming soon and that will be an extra 60 million trips to the West End a year. We have to look at the space available for them.
“We don’t want a solution that’s just about restricting the amount of traffic on the main routes and driving it into the residential side streets. We need to reduce, not divert.” The target was revealed in the organisation’s five-year strategy document, called West End Retail 2020. Mr Tyrrell said business, new Mayor Sadiq Khan, Transport for London and Westminster council leaders all had a key part to play in reaching the objective. More details about how it could be achieved will be revealed in a follow-up plan late next month.
But Mr Tyrrell said huge strides are already being made in small-scale trials that could be expanded to cover the whole of the West End. For example, on Bond Street the number of companies collecting waste has been cut from 47 to seven in nine months. Emissions from waste vehicles have fallen by 93 per cent and costs are down 25 per cent.
He said: “It’s a small example of what could be done across the whole of the West End and the role that business has to play.”
A separate initiative in Regent Street, led by landlord the Crown Estate, has seen brands such as Armani share electric delivery vans delivering their stock from a depot in Harlow. It has resulted in an 80 per cent drop in the number of vehicles making deliveries to the 50 participating stores and has cut the amount of carbon dioxide being belched into the street by 10 tonnes a year.