An “ambitious” new framework has been launched by Westminster City Council in a bid to kickstart a “reimagined” Oxford Street and revive the wider district, in order to attract more shoppers to the area post-lockdown.
The new Oxford Street District (OSD) framework, developed with key strategic partners, will reportedly deliver a “bold new vision and framework” to ensure the successful long-term future for the London high street.
The council’s leader, Cllr Rachael Robathan, unveiled a blueprint to reinvent the high street this week, though plans were already in development pre-pandemic. The latest plans now respond to “massive changes” to shopping habits and working patterns, however.
It reimagines the nation’s favourite high street through the following themes; ‘Greener, Smarter, Future and Together’ to create a globally competitive centre for retail, commercial activities, culture and living.
The council said it will focus investment in the district on three strategically defined areas: Oxford Circus and Bond Street, Marble Arch and also East Oxford Street. It will also explore new models of living and working, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises to establish themselves and reusing and reimagining existing buildings.
Westminster has already committed £150m to kickstart the OSD programmes and attract inward investment, taking advantage of the Elizabeth Line opening in 2022 and the area’s links to the wider West End and beyond.
In addition to this framework, plans for a new Marble Arch visitor attraction have also been unveiled, in a bid to further attract visitors to the area. Subject to planning approval, it has been estimated that the 25m high attraction could be enjoyed by up to 200,000 people whilst it is operational, subject to restrictions that remain at the time.
According to the Marble Arch London BID, the attraction would support millions of pounds in incremental spending for the local economy across the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in the West End.
In addition to this, work will also begin within weeks on a proposed range of intensive, interim improvements on Oxford Street to deliver additional pedestrian space, pop up parks, new lighting, landscaping, greening projects and cultural space.
Westminster City Council Leader 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.”