Westminster City Council considering £60m facelift for Oxford Street

Exact details of the cost of the facelift will be revealed in April  (Jeremy Selwyn)
Exact details of the cost of the facelift will be revealed in April (Jeremy Selwyn)

Westminster City Council is considering a plan to spend around £60 million over the next three years to revamp Oxford Street, documents show.

Previous plans to spend £120 million on the shopping and tourist area, under the Oxford Street District programme, have been scrapped by the new Labour-led council.

It’s drafting plans for the area but exact details of how much it will cost will be revealed in April, a budget meeting heard on Tuesday.

Council documents reveal plans to spend £46m on Oxford Street in 2023/24 and then £13m in the following year, with a total of £60.5m spent overall.

The council confirmed in October that new plans for a face-lift would include wider pavements, seating, additional greening and improved lighting.

It’s a reduced plan that focuses solely on Oxford Street, rather than the wider scope of the former District programme.

“The council’s capital funding, together with that from our private-sector partners will now be directed to prioritise and deliver fundamental public realm improvements on Oxford Street itself,” Councillor Geoff Barraclough, Cabinet Member for Planning and Environment, said at the time.

“We will do this at pace, mindful of the urgent need to take action to safeguard the economic well-being of the West End. Refocusing the programme on Oxford Street itself will enable us to quickly deliver the improvements that are most needed for the area.”

Westminster Council said work is planned to begin in Autumn 2023 and “the overarching ambition” is for the face-lift to be finished by Spring 2026.

In October the council said it had an approved capital budget of £150 million, and the way in which it is to be allocated was being evaluated.

The new blueprint for Oxford Street comes after previous plans to create a pedestrian “piazza” were scrapped. Westminster Council said complete pedestrianisation is not the way forward.

“Previous attempts to pedestrianise Oxford Street have met significant opposition and we have considered the concerns raised about the potential impact on public transport, traffic diversions and disabled access in the area,” the council said.

But London Mayor Sadiq Khan said pedestrianising Oxford Street remained his “dream” as the Elizabeth line prepares to deliver thousands more shoppers to the area.

Tube data from December showed that visitor numbers to Oxford Street have bounced back following the Covid pandemic. More than a million entries and exits were recorded on Saturday at stations serving Oxford Street, Knightsbridge, Kensington and Stratford.

Transport for London’s business plan predicts that by March 2026 overall Tube travel will only have reached 86 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while bus journeys will be at 91 per cent.

An independent review was launched into the huge regeneration project last year after it was revealed the council spent more than £6m – three times its budget – on the Marble Arch Mound in late 2021.

Westminster City Council has been approached for comment.