The Second Oxford Street Consultation is due to close on 17 December 2017
The first consultation, on a vague concept of “transforming“ Oxford Street, promised that this second round of consultation would offer a detailed, fully-worked out, scheme, which would take into account the many concerns expressed over the idea of closing Oxford Street to traffic.
Instead we are faced with proposals which fail to answer key questions on traffic displacement, accessibility, bus provision, deliveries and servicing.
Despite a series of meetings with stakeholders, a number of surprise major changes have been introduced at the last minute, not least of which is closure of Oxford Street West to all traffic, 24 hours a day, every day.
To take this change first, it moves all traffic into residential areas at night, when a larger number of vehicles currently use Oxford Street because there are no restrictions, unlike during the daytime. People will have to wait for buses and taxis away from Oxford Street where pedicabs and Uber cars will also clog the streets hoping for fares. Anti-social behaviour will inevitably spread to these surrounding streets.
Delivery trucks and waste collection vehicles will also have to use residential streets to access the shops and businesses of Oxford Street, parking on side streets and wheeling cages and bins along the pavements, causing additional noise and disruption.
A second last-minute move involves changes to the southern end of the Baker Street/Gloucester Place two-way scheme, which took years of careful planning and is less than half way through construction. A proposed southbound bus lane on Orchard Street will block access to the rear of Selfridges for shoppers and deliveries without going through Mayfair and approaching via Duke Street.Many accessibility issues are highlighted in a report which can be reached via a link in the consultation website page headed “Impacts on Accessibility”. Effective solutions to these problems for the disabled, elderly, parents with prams and even able-bodied shoppers laden with purchases are, in the main, conspicuous by their absence. Walking up to 400 metres to a bus stop is not acceptable.
Access to Oxford Street by bus from surrounding and more distant areas will be severely curtailed and is likely to be a disincentive to shoppers as well as a serious inconvenience to staff working in the stores and businesses.
The consultation admits that a comprehensive Management and Enforcement plan would be needed to ensure that noise and anti-social behaviour are controlled and that deliveries and waste collections take place at civilised hours so that residents can be confident of being able to sleep. However, no such plan yet exists and there is no sign of adequate funding for such an expensive exercise. Westminster City Council cannot meet existing demands, the private sector is facing increased business rates and demands to fund the public realm aspects of the scheme and central government has shown no interest in helping London any further. Should Westminster be taking on the risk of a long-term funding commitment at this time when councillors can identify many, many more pressing claims?
There are still far too many unknowns for this project to proceed in its present form. It is vital to respond by the deadline of 17 December and say NO using this link: http://bit.do/oxst
There are two further roadshow events at Wigmore Hall on 8 and 9 December 12pm to 5.30pm. The full consultation can be found at https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/oxford-street/