Oxford Street’s green renaissance as radical new plans revealed

A 150m-long section of Oxford Street is to be closed to vehicles by the end of the year effectively cutting ‘London’s high street’ in two

A bird’s eye view of the new plans with traffic continuing on Regent Street and two new Piazzas on Oxford Street

Jonathan PrynnConsumer Business Editor
@JonPrynn |
5 hours ago

hoppers, tourists and workers will be able to stroll across Oxford Circus without dodging the traffic for the first time under radical plans to create a pedestrian "piazza" in the heart of the West End.

A 150m-long section of Oxford Street, on either side of Britain’s busiest pedestrian junction, is to be closed to vehicles by the end of the year, effectively cutting "London’s high street" in two.

Under the proposals, revealed by Westminster council working with The Crown Estate, on Wednesday morning, the stretch from John Prince’s Street to the west of Oxford Circus, through to Great Portland Street to the east will be shut to buses and taxis.

This will be turned into two pedestrian "piazzas" on either side of Oxford Circus. There will still be traffic along Regent Street but this will be "calmed" through longer green phases at pedestrian crossings and other measures.

There will also be new entrances to Oxford Circus underground station which regularly has to be closed because of the sheer weight of passengers trying to get in and out.

An artist’s impression of the of the western piazza with new access into the London Underground

The roads at the 202-year-old intersection are notoriously difficult to cross with up to 40,000 pedestrians an hour forced to wait for the "green man" signal at Oxford Street and Regent Street. The crossings can become dangerously overcrowded at Christmas and the peak of the summer tourist season.

Oxford Circus was last redesigned in 2009 at a cost of £5 million when the distinctive diagonal format was created in an earlier attempt to make it less intimidating to pedestrians.

However, the new plans are more far reaching and come ahead of the delayed opening of the Elizabeth Line in 2022, which is expected to bring tens of millions more visitors to the West End.

A cross-section of Oxford St showing the two new entrances into the London underground

Buses and cabs will be rerouted around Oxford Circus through Marylebone and Fitzrovia along the parallel Margaret Street.

Transport for London officials hope the impact on side routes will be limited as the number of buses passing down Oxford Street has been reduced in recent years. Currently only two routes, the 98 and the 390, pass the entire length of Oxford Street via Oxford Circus.

An international design competition organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects will be held later in the summer with the road closures scheduled to come into effect in November in time for Christmas with further work next year.

Westminster council leader Rachael Robathan said: "There is an urgent need to tackle pedestrian congestion and safety, poor air quality and noise. The serious congestion of Oxford Circus - of people and of traffic - is unsustainable and demands action. In the aftermath of the pandemic, and with the arrival of the Elizabeth Line, there is an overwhelming need and a compelling opportunity to build back better.

"We hope the creation of these pedestrian-only piazzas at Oxford Circus will not only improve safety, security, accessibility and but create an iconic destination at the heart of London."

The improvement is one of a series of measures in a £150 million programme designed to attract visitors back to the West End after the pandemic. They include the "Marble Arch Mound" viewing platform being built at the western end of Oxford Street.

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  1. 49 min ago

    Longer green phases at pedestrian crossings are not the answer. The removal of through traffic along Regents Street is the answer. Oxford Circus should be wholly pedestrianised.

    • 48 min ago

      Not sure why someone objects to this perfectly reasonable post quite so much, or why the moderators think it has breached community guidelines, because it definitely hasn't.

  2. 2 hrs ago

    Who in their right mind would want to go shopping in Oxford St or Regent St?? Or even dumber, cycle there?? The whole area will die a long, slow death over the next 15 years as online shopping and 'localisation' take over.....and Amen to that!

  3. 6 hrs ago

    While escalators or lifts from

    street to booking hall level will make the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines stair free what Oxford Circus Station really needs is a full upgrade with full step free access to all lines.

    I fail to see logic in leaving Regent Street with traffic as if anything this is likely to lead to more accidents with daydreaming phone and radio listeners unaware of traffic from behind them

  4. 6 hrs ago

    anything on wheels needs to be banned.

    • 5 hrs ago

      Yes car drivers will tend to do that. Tbh I'm amazed they were sticking to 20mph limit

    • 4 hrs ago

      Shopping carts...

  5. 6 hrs ago

    As long as cyclists and e-scooters are also banned

  6. content removed
    • 6 hrs ago

      100% Agree

  7. 6 hrs ago

    It's only taken 15 years but it is a start. The whole of the West End should be car free every weekend except very limited hours for deliveries.

  8. 6 hrs ago

    It should go further than this - Oxford Street is a grim place to visit.

  9. 6 hrs ago

    Sweepstake for how many seconds after it's opened that a cyclists barrels across it?

    • 5 hrs ago

      I see! I stand corrected.

    • 3 hrs ago

      No cyclist in their right mind would try to cycle through a mass of pedestrians like that. Hopefully the proposed diversions for traffic along Margaret Street will include high quality, segregated cycling infrastructure that will provide a more appealing and safe route for those on 2 wheels. Not holding my breath, though...

  10. 6 hrs ago

    Interesting. Is it too little, too late perhaps? This should've been done decades ago and should be more ambitious.

    • 5 hrs ago

      Nah. Trams would disrupt people's ability to flow freely across the street. There's already a a tube which runs the entire length of Oxford Street - the Central Line.

    • 3 hrs ago

      And "soon" there'll also be Crossrail

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