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Westminster City Council joins 'New Districts'

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Deirdra Armsby, Head of Place-shaping from Westminster City Council will be joining our 'New Districts' forum this month.

Deirdra will be discussing the measures that Westminster is taking to protect and improve its historic streets and the 'greening programmes' that enhance health among the population.

Westminster City Council and The Crown Estate have unveiled their ‘Regent Street Public Realm Vision’ with exciting ambitions for surrounding landmark areas. Presenting a unique global and local opportunity, Westminster City Council and The Crown Estate have launched the Regent Street Public Realm Vision Report.  The report outlines collective ambitions for one of London’s most iconic streets following an extensive public engagement with the area’s residents, workers, and visitors from the UK and abroad.

Three key priorities emerged from the public’s feedback:

  • prioritising pedestrian experience;

  • preserving heritage; and,

  • introducing nature and greening.

These priorities will be central in developing designs to enhance the look and feel of the public realm for the benefit of the local community and the millions of people that visit it each year, and will secure Regent Street’s position as one of the leading urban destinations on the global stage long into the future.

The ultimate ambition is to design and deliver a public realm project that connects St. James’s Park to Regent’s Park, to bring forward a new green link through the heart of the West End. This would emphasise and reimagine the famous architect – John Nash’s – ‘park-to-park’ connection, set out over 200 years ago, to help adapt it in a changing climate and give rise to a variety of flourishing activities and experiences along its 1.5 mile route. 

The public engagement process was held between July and October 2023, to gather feedback from people who live, work, and visit Regent Street. Engagement was specifically designed to be inclusive of a wide range of communities and resulted in 3,500 people participating through a series of workshops, online and on-street surveys, and social media campaigns. This ensured that the report gave rich insights that reflected perspectives from those communities.

The Council and The Crown Estate have also announced that the project will be expanded to include Piccadilly Circus and Haymarket in its next phase, as they continue to work with residents, businesses, and visitors to unlock a landmark and transformational public realm and placemaking opportunity for the West End.

The development of the ‘Regent Street, Haymarket, and Piccadilly Circus Public Realm’ project will complement the emerging Oxford Street programme to ensure that the West End remains one of the world’s most exciting and successful destinations.

Meanwhile, the £90million upgrade for Oxford Street has taken a significant step forward as two thirds of respondents to a consultation of local people, businesses, and visitors gave the scheme their approval.

The scheme for Oxford Street proposes a more attractive and comfortable street with wider footways, improved seating, more trees and planting, attractive lighting, and clearer signage. The programme includes a number of projects to enhance local areas along the street such as Oxford Circus, where the proposals aim to increase footway space by 40%, allowing for easier pedestrian crossings.

The consultation took place through in-person events, outreach in local markets, and detailed feedback via an online questionnaire. People were asked to share their feedback on different aspects of proposals for including improvements to the look and accessibility of footways, traffic changes, vehicle access, cycle infrastructure, and signage.

Following feedback from over 1,600 people and support for all proposals included in the public consultation, the council will now move the Programme forward. 

Schemes for Oxford Circus, Marylebone Fitzrovia, Oxford Street West, and Eastcastle Street were also included in the consultation. These schemes focus on providing more direct vehicle routes through the areas as well as improvements for pedestrians and the public realm. All five schemes received support from over half of the respondents to an online questionnaire and were approved to go ahead by the Council’s cabinet in December.  

The council will continue to work with local partners and people living in Westminster to refine designs for the street, with construction to begin on Oxford Street in Autumn 2024.


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