Mayor says failed Oxford Street pedestrianisation plan hurts street's future

The Mayor of London has accused Westminster City Council of undermining Oxford Street’s future after it withdrew support for his pedestrianisation plan.

Mayor of London

Sadiq Khan said the decision is a “betrayal” and poses a “real threat” to the future of the street that has one of the largest concentrations of fashion flagships in the country.

The Westminster authority, which has the final say, wrote to residents on Thursday saying that after two public consultations it was no longer supporting the ambitious scheme. While the plan had received the thumbs-up from consumers, a lot of residents in the area were concerned about its impact on traffic congestion and pollution in other streets and those residents make up the Westminster electorate so their views are hugely important to the city council.

Khan meanwhile said Westminster was blocking the opportunity to make “Oxford Street a safer, healthier and better environment.”

He also said that the timing was particularly poor given that it came just as House of Fraser announced that its Oxford Street store would be closing next year.

However, the Mayor also said he would continue to fight for pedestrianisation given how important the issue is for London as a whole.

And it's no surprise that he’s upset, given that Westminster had seemed to be on board with the plans when they were first announced. 

Westminster countered this week that after speaking to residents, “we believe there is a very strong democratic mandate that the pedestrianisation scheme that was under consideration is not what local people want.”

And there's no denying that it wouldn't have been an easy or simple scheme to implement as traffic in the area is heavy and surrounding roads do not exactly have excess capacity.

Council leader Nickie Aiken said the authority would continue to work on ways of improving the area and making the most of the benefits brought by the new transport link, the Elizabeth Line, that opens later this year.

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