Oxford Street’s facelift is set to deliver better pedestrian access and a greener shopping environment, with shovels set to hit the ground on the project by autumn next year, Retail Week can reveal.

Computer-generated images shared with Retail Week reveal that the council’s Oxford Street makeover project includes plans for pocket parks, widened pavements and better lighting. 

Work is expected to begin on London’s main shopping thoroughfare as early as autumn 2024, finishing in spring 2026. 

However, Retail week understands that plans for full pedestrianisation of the mile-long street have been parked entirely due to complex public transport issues and fears the street could become an unmanageable public space late at night when stores close and pubs empty, according to sources close to the project. 

Instead of pedestrianisation, the street will feature widened pavements, 64 new and improved pedestrian crossings and mixed-use sections of the street, which will be used as loading bays in the morning, pavements in the afternoon and taxi ranks in the evenings. 

On the western side of the street, temporary pavement widening introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic will be made permanent and improved, while on the eastern side the central reservation will be removed and pavements will be widened. 

Lighting on the street will be changed to smart LED lighting and there will be improvements to current “community spaces” to make pocket parks with more seating, planters and the addition of two more spaces. 

Westminster City Council is yet to reveal its revised costings for the project, which is a joint venture with New West End Company, but the improvements will be made using a 50/50 split of private and public sector funding.

Retail Week understands it will cost in the region of £100m over the next three years. 

Councillor Geoff Barraclough, Westminster City Council cabinet member for planning and economic development, said: “We have a significant opportunity to overhaul Oxford Street and transform this famous shopping street into a bright and vibrant location.

“We have famous stores on Oxford Street and a queue of well-known brands looking to open, but they need to do that in a setting that encourages people to want to visit and spend time here. 

“With New West End Company as partners, we have the weight of retail experience on our side. I am really looking forward to getting on with a practical and deliverable programme, which will breathe new life into the nation’s favourite high street.”

New West End Company chief executive Dee Corsi said: “The proposed enhancement of Oxford Street’s public realm infrastructure is part of a bigger, once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity to regenerate one of the world’s most iconic retail and leisure destinations. 

“The partnership between NWEC and WCC is happening against a backdrop of wider, positive shifts in the market; from the progress of ambitious, multi-use redevelopment projects to the signing of new global flagships, and the return of iconic brands such as HMV. We are already seeing increased footfall and dwell time as a result of the Elizabeth Line, and wider bounce back in tube journeys, which underscores the need for an enhanced visitor experience.

“We look forward to working with WCC to ensure that we are capitalising on this momentum and delivering on a vision for Oxford Street in which enhanced public realm provision is a key component of its long-term, sustainable growth.”