LONDON – Oxford Street, a perpetually traffic-clogged thoroughfare filled with a mix of upscale retailers, high-street shops and discounters, is set for a major revamp under the city’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan.
His office said this week that 1.2 miles of the 1.5-mile street would be pedestrianized by 2020 as part of plans to cut air pollution on the street, which is home to nearly all the major fast-fashion brands as well as John Lewis, Debenhams, Selfridges and Marks & Spencer.
Cars are already banned during weekdays and Saturdays, yet double-decker buses and taxis constantly rumble up and down the street, and cyclists often speed down it.
It will be closed to all traffic in two phases, from east to west: The first part to be pedestrianized will run from Tottenham Court Road to Oxford Circus, and the second from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch.
Earlier this month, the mayor unveiled a crackdown on pollution across London. He plans to charge 10 pounds, or $13.25, for the most polluting vehicles and create an extended, ultra-low emissions zone.
“With nearly 10,000 people dying early every year in London due to exposure to air pollution, cleaning up London’s toxic air is now an issue of life and death,” he said.
The mayor’s announcement came a few days after the New West End Company, a retail lobby, said it is targeting an additional 1 billion pounds, or $1.32 billion, in sales on the street by 2020. It plans to achieve the goal by focusing on exclusive partnerships, sponsorships and “moments” — such as special firework displays — for consumers. The aim is to position the street as an unrivaled shopping destination, and the focus will be on fashion, innovation, technology and entertainment brands.
According to the New West End Company, Oxford Street is the longest high street in Europe, and home to more international fashion brands than anywhere else in the world. There are 88 flagships on the street.
Overall, the West End generates annual sales of 8.5 billion pounds, or $11.26 billion, with Oxford Street generating 5 billion pounds, or $6.62 billion, of this in consumer spending.