Freight vehicles could be removed or time-restricted from London’s Oxford Street, as plans for a major revamp of one of the world’s busiest shopping destinations take shape.
TfL has opened a consultation this week into proposals to make Oxford Street area more pedestrian-friendly and tackle air quality and safety concerns from over-crowding.
This requires a “significant increase in the amount of space provided for pedestrians and a radical reduction in the amount of traffic using Oxford Street,” according to the consultation.
As an established retail and business hub, TfL said it is "extremely important" that businesses based on Oxford Street can receive deliveries and be serviced efficiently.
"At the same time we recognise the importance of ensuring that local residents are protected from excessive noise, pollution and congestion. Any proposals must ensure that freight and servicing vehicles are able to continue to access the Oxford Street district efficiently," the consultation added.
At present, Oxford Street is open for freight deliveries at any time, with the majority being made between 22.00 and 10.00. Some businesses on Oxford Street already have arrangements in place to make or take deliveries via nearby side roads or to loading facilities at the rear.
However, if the current status quo is maintained, planners say it would “greatly limit” their ability to transform the area.
They say removing access for freight entirely would increase the scope for transformation; however they acknowledge this may have implications for businesses or traffic flow in neighbouring areas.
Restricting freight vehicles during the day-time is another option, with night-time access either to the full length of Oxford Street or to certain sections of it.
This option would give pedestrians more space, however would require businesses to re-time the receiving of their goods.
“We will continue to work with businesses to find new ways of improving the efficiency of deliveries and servicing, while reducing the impact of these journeys on those visiting, living or working in the Oxford Street district,” the consultation document said.
It added that successful consolidation schemes had already reduced freight and servicing journeys in both Regent Street and Bond Street,
If freight vehicles were banned from Oxford Street, planners would consider the potential for designated crossing points to enable vehicles to head north to south and vice versa.
TfL said air quality in Oxford Street is a “serious and pressing” issue, regularly exceeding legal limits, despite a boost in low-emissions buses and taxis and existing freight consolidation and re-timing work.
Road safety is also a “significant concern”, with around 60 collisions a year on Oxford Street resulting in personal injury.
Options for restricting or rerouting buses, taxis and cyclists are also included in the early proposals.
TfL is keen to hear industry views on the project and the consultation will be open until 18 June.