Retail news – Oxford Street to be car-free by 2020

18th July 2016

The Virgin Store in Oxford Street

Amid this week’s post-Brexit drama, new prime minister and cabinet reshuffle we found an exciting bit of retail news that had been consigned to the bottom of the pile! New London Mayor Sadiq Khan has just announced plans to pedestrianise London’s iconic Oxford Street by 2020.

The move comes as part of a new clean air initiative set out by the incumbent Mayor’s office in order to tackle the rising air pollution levels in our capital. The proposal sets out a plan to phase out all road traffic over the next four years. This includes banning buses and taxis from the street, one of the most famous retail areas in the UK and home to many flagship stores.

Speaking to the London Assembly, Deputy Mayor for Transport, Valerie Shawcross outlined the plans for the new pedestrian area, which will run from

Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch and is timed to coincide with the opening of the new Crossrail system.

At present, cars are already banned along one section of the famous street between 7am and 7pm but it is still a major route for taxis and buses. Oxford Street and adjacent Regent Street have closed the street to traffic for special occasions in the past – particularly in the run up to Christmas – but this is the first time that traffic has been banned along the Eastern section of the famous thoroughfare.

One group who have been campaigning for less traffic in the West end for a number of years is the New West End Company, whose chief executive, Jace Tyrrell is delighted at the move:

“We look forward to seeing and discussing detailed proposals for Oxford Street following Ms Shawcross’s statements but feel very strongly that any form of vehicle free zones must lead to a genuine reduction of traffic, rather than large scale re-routing down smaller residential or commercial streets.

“In addition, it must be accompanied by a full economic assessments to measure the impact on businesses and the shoppers and workers that travel to the West End every day via public transport.”

It’s certainly going to be a bit of a headache to implement and we think Tyrrell has some valid points regarding how they are going to reroute the traffic. No wonder it’s going to take four years to implement! If you’ve got any ideas on how they can tackle the problem then please drop us a comment below and we’ll forward them onto the Mayor’s office!


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