Westminster City Council has shelved plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street in central London.
A statement from the Leader of the Council, Cllr Nickie Aiken, read: “Westminster City Council is hugely ambitious for Oxford Street and we will do everything we can to ensure the district’s long term success in the face of a challenging and ever changing economic and retail environment.
“We will now look to develop fresh plans to achieve this, but we can confirm that the council does not support the full scale pedestrianisation of Oxford Street and believes a rethink of the whole strategy is now required. As the local council, we need to make sure that everyone can benefit from improvements, not just certain groups.
“I utterly reject any suggestion that there is any kind of betrayal. Quite the contrary, we are sticking up for the people who know best, those who live and work in the district. It was clear through two public consultations and recent council elections that local people do not support the pedestrianisation proposals.
“However, doing nothing to improve the area is not an option either if we are to maximise the potential benefits from the opening of the Elizabeth Line. We must future-proof Oxford Street and the surrounding district so it remains the pre-eminent shopping district in the UK and maintains its crown as the nation’s high street.
“We are now working on our own proposals to improve the Oxford Street district and will share them with residents, businesses and visitors for discussion in the early Autumn.”
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, claimed the decision would be seen as a betrayal of millions. He said: “All of the main mayoral candidates agreed on the need for the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street at the last election, as did Westminster Council.
“This now poses a real threat to the future of Oxford Street.”
Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users UK, told CBW: “We are very relieved that people who aren’t able to walk far will still be able to use Oxford Street. The issue of congestion still needs to be addressed, however, and we would like to see private cars banned entirely, with all-day access for public transport and restricted hours for delivery vehicles.”