A unique Marble Arch visitor attraction and an ambitious new framework to kickstart a reimagined Oxford Street has been announced by Westminster City Council, as part of £150m plans for the area.
Referred to as the ‘great comeback’, the council has announced ambitious new plans to revive Oxford Street and the wider district, and the blueprint hopes to reinvent the high street for a post-pandemic recovery, as well as for the long-term.
The new Oxford Street District (OSD) framework, developed with key strategic partners, aims to deliver:
- A bold new vision and framework to ensure the successful long-term future of the street, as the greenest, smartest, most sustainable district of its kind anywhere in the world.
- Spades in the ground within weeks, as part of a package of interim support to aid post-pandemic recovery in a comprehensive year of delivery.
- Restoring the area as the `must visit’ destination of choice for domestic and international visitors, when restrictions ease, as well as the place to start, grow and expand businesses.
- A massive boost for the visitor economy with immediate improvements, including proposals for a bold, new ‘Marble Arch Hill’ temporary visitor attraction at Marble Arch to be a catalyst for Oxford Street’s climb back to global acclaim and success.
The new framework builds on previous work and represents Westminster City Council’s commitment to the area.
Oxford Street was already in development pre-pandemic, but the new proposals responds to changes to shopping habits and working patterns that have been accelerated by Covid-19.
It reimagines the ‘nation’s favourite high street’ through the themes of greener, smarter, future and together, in order to create a globally competitive centre for innovative retail, commercial activities, culture and living.
Some of the framework’s proposals for longer-term improvements to the area include cleaner air across the district, achieved through world class sustainability initiatives to tackle climate change, with a huge greening programme, a pedestrian first approach and a zero emission transport network.
Also included is exploring new models of living and working by supporting small and medium sized enterprises to establish themselves, as well as reusing and reimagining existing buildings.
The council has already committed £150m to kickstart the OSD programmes and attract inward investment, as well as taking full advantage of the Elizabeth Line opening in 2022 and the area’s links to the wider West End and beyond.
According to the council, It will be a `year of delivery’ for Oxford Street, with a large number of immediate projects getting under way within weeks, including, encouraging a wider range of businesses through a sustained change towards forward-looking brands, for a more varied range of shops, including pop-ups, offices, restaurants and cultural or leisure activities.
Work will also begin within weeks on a proposed range of intensive, interim improvements on the street to deliver additional pedestrian space, pop-up parks, new lighting, landscaping, greening projects and cultural space, in order to create an attractive, Covid-secure environment for visitors post-lockdown.
Commenting, Westminster City Council Leader, Councillor Rachael Robathan said: “This ambitious and comprehensive framework is the blueprint for how we will work with our partners to reinvent successfully the Oxford Street District for decades to come. This is something we’d committed to long before the pandemic, but the last year has underlined why it’s so important.
“The West End is the engine of the London economy and a huge employer which has been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19.
“We are confident that our bold plans will secure the district’s long-term success, running alongside our creative, interim plans to boost the capital’s post-pandemic recovery. We want to focus attention on this iconic centre of our city, which has been increasingly overlooked and cement its status for the future as a key Central London destination.”