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Oxford Street plans include visitor attractions and green spaces

London’s Oxford Street is set to become a greener space with visitor attractions, performances and installations as part of recovery plans in response to COVID-19.

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oxford street plans

Westminster City Council recently announced ambitious plans to reinvent Oxford Street with an investment of £150m as retail recovers from COVID-19.

The plans include a temporary visitor attraction at Marble Arch called Marble Arch Hill. This will serve to encourage shoppers back to the Oxford Street District.

Marble Arch Hill is a hollowed-out mountain based on a scaffolding structure, which will offer views across Hyde Park and Marble Arch.

Westminster City Council is also working to make more space for visitors, with trees, greenery, seating and pocket parks throughout Oxford Street District.

Marble Arch Hill

marble arch hill

These temporary measures are due to be completed by late spring 2021. They are designed to help local businesses bounce back after COVID-19.

There are also plans to add spaces for outdoor performances and technology-based installations, repositioning Oxford Street as the centre of retail and leisure in London’s West End.

“The pandemic has been a hammer blow for retailers and Oxford Street has suffered as much or more than any other high street in the country,” said Cllr Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council

“It is critical that we act urgently to restore confidence in the nation’s favourite shopping district,” added Robathan, who said the initial measures “will literally pave the way for an economic recovery”.

“They will create a new visitor-friendly environment and reinforce the area as one of the best places in the world to live, work, shop and visit,” she said. “This is just the start.”

Economic recovery of Oxford Street

oxford street plans

Oxford Street’s retail offerings are also changing, with John Lewis turning nearly half of its branch into offices. M&S is modernising its branch at Marble Arch, also creating office space in the upper floors of the building.

“The launch of our proposal to redevelop Marble Arch today is the latest example of how we are shifting gears in creating a store estate fit for the future,” said Sacha Berendji, retail, property and operations director at M&S.

“We welcome the much needed improvement to the public space on Oxford Street which will both prepare for the opening of Crossrail and help encourage shoppers and visitors to come back to the West End,” said Karen Lord, head of branch at John Lewis Oxford Street.

Elsewhere, Gravity Active Entertainment is transforming a former Debenhams store at Southside Shopping Centre in Wandsworth into a £4m retailtainment hub.

Oxford Street welcomes approximately 200 million visitors annually.

Images: OSD / Westminster City Council

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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