‘Oxford Avenue wants extra selection to turn out to be No 1 vacation spot once more’



xford Avenue wants fewer outlets and extra eating places and cultural venues to revive its fame because the UK’s premier buying avenue, based on a brand new council chief.

Plans to create a pedestrian “piazza” at Oxford Circus have formally been axed — together with the broader pedestrianisation of the road.

Geoff Barraclough, cupboard member for planning and financial improvement in Westminster council’s new Labour administration, mentioned the “combine” of companies needed to change. He instructed a Voice of Authority webinar: “Everyone agrees that Oxford Avenue ought to be the nation’s premier buying avenue.

“It’s 1.8km lengthy, the centre of the most important metropolis in Europe and it’s not proper. We all know that the combo of economic wants to vary. There isn’t actually demand for 1.8km of retail. We want a combination of leisure, of hospitality, and cultural makes use of … I’m very eager to help that.”

Final 12 months, the council warned that “Oxford Avenue’s present situation doesn’t match its significance”, with “poor high quality” public realm, excessive congestion and air pollution and restricted facilities.

Earlier than the pandemic, about 200 million folks visited the realm every year. However the council’s former Tory administration ditched plans with London Mayor Sadiq Khan to part-pedestrianise the road to create further house for Elizabeth line passengers, although the opening of its new station at Bond Avenue has been delayed till autumn.

Mr Barraclough mentioned the earlier administration “burned by way of £35 million” put aside to improve the realm, together with £6 million on the Marble Arch mound fiasco, whereas solely spending £70,000 on the road itself.

He revealed he had “cancelled” the piazza plans, which the Tories placed on ice final November. “We aren’t going to pedestrianise Oxford Avenue,” he mentioned.

The council is investigating 30 companies, together with sweet shops and “poor-quality” memento outlets, for potential enterprise charges evasion value £7.9 million. Greater than £574,000 of counterfeit items have been seized. It has additionally written to twenty-eight freeholders, urging them to recognise the harm such shops do to the road’s picture.

Dockless rent bikes discovered deserted have been eliminated.

Mr Barraclough mentioned a two-thirds low cost on charges was on provide to landlords who allowed empty outlets for use for progressive “pop ups”. He additionally signalled that obligatory buy orders might be used to reshape the road.

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