Retail giants hold talks over street closures that could hit footfall hard around Bond Street
Key parts of the UK’s most high profile shopping street are set to be paralysed next year as one of its busiest sections is partially closed for the building of London rail network Crossrail.
Retail Week has learnt that retail giants including Boots, Debenhams and Selfridges met last week to discuss the disruption they will face when utility works from February to October will result in lengthy closures of key sections of the road around Bond Street tube station.
The meeting, hosted by the New West End Company (NWEC), was also attended by representatives from Crossrail and London Underground. One source said the disruption would be “not too dissimilar” to the Crossrail works at the east end of Oxford Street around Tottenham Court Road tube station, which led to a 20% to 25% slump in footfall over a nine-month construction period this year.
Retailers with stores around Bond Street station will find customer access is severely hampered at a time when they are already fighting hard to win shopper spend in the downturn. Pedestrian access will be maintained but shoppers are likely to be diverted in some places, which happened at the east end of Oxford Street this year. The store groups also face disruption to deliveries.
The section of Oxford Street set to be affected runs from around St Christopher’s Place to Woodstock Street, although Transport for London (TfL) said this has yet to be confirmed. A NWEC spokesman said the north and south sides of the section will be closed for certain periods, but they will be alternated so one side can stay open at all times.
However, TfL said initially the road will just be closed to eastbound traffic.
A spokeswoman from Boots, which has its 29,060 sq ft flagship on the section affected, said: “Boots is supportive of Crossrail. Contingencies have been put in place. We will continue working to ensure that the impact remains minimum.”
The NWEC spokesman said: “The crucial thing is shoppers and deliveries getting access, but we want Crossrail. It will increase footfall by 30%. TfL understands the impact this will have, and it’s good it is finishing it before Christmas.”
A British Retail Consortium spokesman said: “We’re very much in favour of Crossrail but of course the whole project has to be managed in a way that minimises the impact on retailers.”
A TfL spokesman said: “The major redevelopment will create a new world class station. To help sustain the West End as a premier shopping destination, utility pipes that run below Oxford Street need to be strengthened. A key aim will be to ensure delivery schedules are maintained and work is completed ahead of festive trading.”
Crossrail services are set to start in 2017.