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Oxford Street 2.0: How £1bn investment will renew and transform London shopping hub

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A few short years ago optimism about Oxford Street was in short supply. Footfall plummeted in the pandemic and fears for retail and tourism deterred investment in the area. Empty units were taken over by a spate of insalubrious American candy stores, often filled with fake goods and defaulting on their business rates.

Confidence in Westminster council’s plans for the future of the street was at rock bottom after years of dithering under the previous administration which had cost local tax payers £34 million and delivered little more than the notorious Marble Arch Mound.

We’ve come a long way in the last two years. Our new approach on the candy stores is working. They are melting away from the “nation’s high street,” replaced by the return of HMV, international brands like Miniso, and even a National Basketball Association store now operating out of previous candy store sites. Our planning committee has given the green light to a new food court to replace another tat shop near Marble Arch, all part of efforts to improve opportunities to eat and drink in the area.

Retail is proving tigerishly resilient, whether it’s through interesting or unique brands or making shopping part of a wider experience as the new Ikea showcase shop opening up in the old Top Shop site plans to do.

Changes to Westminster council’s planning approach have helped support a wider range of new and exciting uses beyond retail, with the Moco Museum and Pocket Planet just two of the new attractions opening soon.

These new businesses in the street have been given confidence by a clear sense that the council and the New West End Company are making progress to deliver a real improvement in the quality of Oxford Street through our planned £90 million joint investment. This includes wider pavements, new lighting, improved pedestrian crossings, places to sit down and new trees. Watch this space for news on the next steps in the journey to help transform the nation’s high street to make it somewhere people want to spend both their time and money.

Adam Hug is the leader of Westminster council

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