Oxford Street is to undergo a “radical” transformation that combines retail frontages with leisure, cultural and community spaces as part of a £2.9bn investment to turn London’s West End into an “international centre”.
The new Oxford Street will blend food, leisure and experiential-led offerings into the retail mix, pivoting away from souvenir shops on the shopping thoroughfare. This is designed to create a 24-hour economy, suggests a report from New West End Company, the representative body for businesses on Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street.
A new public “piazza” is proposed at Oxford Circus, alongside the conversion of Marble Arch into a public square and events space.
To promote the West End as an “international centre”, New West End Company is campaigning for an extension of Sunday trading hours to 8pm to match international benchmarks. This is predicted to add a further 795 full-time jobs in the West End and provide an annual boost of £260m in sales.
New West End says that, after years of delays, the arrival of Crossrail and the Elizabeth Line in 2021 will make Oxford Street the best-connected shopping district in the world, as Heathrow airport will be just over 30 minutes away.
The redevelopment also includes the transformation of London’s Cavendish Square into a 200,000 sq ft underground mixed-use destination.
The West End is expected to attract an additional 60 million visits by 2022 – a 40% increase on 2019.
Visitors will be able to enjoy district-wide wifi, which will support the use of WeChat and Alipay for Chinese visitors. There are also plans for future apps to include targeted and bespoke information on brands and offers based on the location of the user, as well as enabling online restaurant and bar bookings.
Oxford Street is already part of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, and future plans are for the street and its surrounding areas to be zero-emissions transport zones for all vehicles. Transport for London has committed to reducing bus numbers to just four routes once the Elizabeth Line has opened.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, said: “London’s West End is not beyond the wider malaise of the retail sector. However, the £2.9bn investment from public and private sectors will catalyse the birth of a new West End. Additionally, the new deal will see the West End secure ‘international centre’ status, which will lead to a generational shift in how Oxford Street is used.
“Customers will be so spoilt: the rise of ‘brand temples’ will offer more than just products – experiences and reasons to visit; new green pedestrian spaces will emerge; a super-speed Crossrail will connect Heathrow airport to the West End in less than 30 minutes; a vibrant Oxford Street will allow visitors to experience the very best retail, leisure and hospitality.
“The next five years will bring extraordinary change in the district – more than in the last 50 years. We are truly witnessing a transformative moment for the most renowned shopping destination in the world.”