The part closure of Oxford Street is a visible sign of the Crossrail project, but will the inconvenience be worth it in the long run for retailers?
Why are we talking about this now?
Road works for the new cross-London train line Crossrail closed a key section of Oxford Street last week. The stretch will be shut to eastbound traffic between
Vere Street, adjacent to Debenhams, to Duke Street, next to Selfridges, as work begins to improve Bond Street station where the new train line will stop.
How long will the closure last for?
Until October. Bus diversions will be in place during the period. Pedestrian access to all stores will be maintained, although white fences that are being erected around the work sites will obscure some shop fronts.
Are any further works planned?
Although this is the only road closure Transport for London (TfL) is planning, shoppers face further woe when Northern Line tube trains cease stopping at Tottenham Court Road station in April for eight months for construction work on Oxford Street’s second Crossrail stop. TfL said the Northern Line stop will be reinstated in early December so that peak Christmas trading is not disrupted.
What effect will this have on Oxford Street trade?
96% of visitors to London’s premier shopping street arrive via public transport according to the New West End Company, so footfall is likely to be hit by the road and tube closures. Footfall plunged between 15% and 20% across the east end of Oxford Street when key roads around Tottenham Court Road were blocked off for nine months in February last year for Crossrail works. A similar effect is expected from the closures at the west end of Oxford Street.
Will the disruption be worth it?
The accessibility of the West End’s key shopping locations will improve when Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road Crossrail stations open. The route, which runs from Maidenhead in Berkshire in the west to Shenfield in Essex at the east end, will operate 24 trains an hour. This will bring 30 million extra people to the West End when it opens in 2018.
The new line is also stimulating regeneration of the run-down east end of Oxford Street, which is likely to change to be more in keeping with the retail at the western end. More big retailers are looking to open at the Tottenham Court Road end, following in the steps of Primark, which already has a flagship at Marble Arch, and has signed up for a new 85,000 sq ft premises opposite the new Tottenham Court Road Station.