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New West End Company to target "wall of red buses" in shopping district

The New West End Company has pledged to end gridlock in the shopping district as it launches its re-election campaign.

Plans could include pedestrianising parts of the core shopping streets and restricting the routes of buses. Delivery vehicles are also likely to face new limits.

The pledge comes as NWEC seeks approval from the majority of the 350 retailers that populate the West End for £25m that will allow it to continue overall management of the district for the next five years.

The not-for-profit business kick started its campaign this morning (September 26) with chief executive Richard Dickinson promising to “create a world class environment and deliver a game changer to end the wall of buses and congestion on our streets”.

Acknowledging that preparations for the Olympics had “dominated” in recent years, Dickinson said it was now time to look to the future, highlighting the completion of Crossrail as the most significant event on the horizon.

“With Crossrail bringing in 70 million new journeys a year to the capital, we now need urgent action to reduce traffic in London’s West End,” he explained. “We must deliver places for people, not traffic, and my number one mission is to see an end to the wall of red buses within our next term.”

Speaking with Drapers, Dickinson added: “The clear message from retailers is that they want to see less traffic. Now we need to start having the conversation about how we do that.”

Although Dickinson outlined several possibilities, he dismissed the idea of a tram as “not the right route”.

NWEC is also planning to respond to calls for more “more breathing space”, allowing shoppers to relax or eat on the streets, with the introduction of 10 new oasis spaces. More entertainment, in the form of one-off music and art events, and enhanced visual displays in the vein of the Jubilee bunting, which met with approval from shoppers, is also on the cards.

And security will be an area of investment to ensure “the figures keep going down”.

On top of the retailers’ £25m investment, NWEC is hoping to secure an additional £15m from the district’s property managers and through other fundraising such as commercial sponsorship.

“Over five years, £40m can make a big difference,” said Dickinson. “This is about the business voice – an agenda for change. At a time when local authorities are tight for cash, we tackle the issues that are important to our retail members.”

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