- JONATHAN PRYNN
- Friday 27 April 2018 10:14
The Mayor wants to start pedestrianising Europe’s busiest shopping destination from late this year, starting with an 800-metre section at the western end from Oxford Circus to Orchard Street, near Marble Arch.
But many residents in Marylebone, Fitzrovia and Mayfair are concerned that diverted buses, cabs and delivery vans will create gridlock on nearby roads.
Westminster’s cabinet member for Oxford Street, Daniel Astaire, has now told officials to stop working on the pedestrianisation plan. At a full council meeting last week Mr Astaire said: “TfL and the Mayor are the main proponents of the changes to the street, but it belongs to the council and the decision rests with us.
“I have informed them — much to some surprise — that detailed work on a scheme is to be stopped. They had even wanted to appoint an artist to design street concept art, but I have stopped this too. At present there is no scheme nor a proposal which is acceptable to the council.”
He said Westminster could only back a plan that addressed the concerns of residents. Mr Astaire warned that any legal move by TfL to take control of what has been described as Europe’s most polluted street could take four years.
In his manifesto for the 2016 mayoral election Mr Khan said he would: “Restore London’s air quality to legal and safe levels, with action to make travel greener and pedestrianise Oxford Street, while protecting the green belt.”
We asked people in London what they think about plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street
When the Mayor then launched his proposals for Oxford Street in November he was accompanied by Westminster’s deputy leader Robert Davis, suggesting support from the council.
Mr Davis has stepped aside from his role while he is investigated over claims that he received more than 514 “gifts and hospitality”.
TfL bosses initially claimed that the most recent round of consultation — between 6 November and 3 January — revealed 64 per cent outright or partial support for pedestrianisation.
However, it later emerged that many responses from residents had not been recorded because TfL had given out an incorrect email address. The deadline for responses was extended to April 6.
Mr Astaire, who steps down next week, said “the overwhelming majority of Westminster’s residents and businesses” were against the plans.
Local Conservatives are under pressure from three candidates standing for the single-issue Campaign Against Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street party in next Thursday’s council election.
Westminster Conservative leaders are worried that CAPOS could draw enough votes away from the Tories to allow Labour to win West End, Marylebone High Street and Bryanston and Dorset Square wards.
The Tory candidate for Bryanston and Dorset Square ward, Eoghain Murphy, said in a tweet this week: “Only the Conservatives will protect residents’ interests against the Labour Mayor’s plans. Don’t waste your vote!”
A spokesman for the Mayor said: “The Transformation of Oxford Street is a joint project between Westminster council, TfL and the Mayor… We continue to work closely with Westminster council to look at all the latest consultation responses in detail, and ensure everyone’s views are taken on board before a final proposed scheme is presented.”