FTA recognises that Oxford Street should be one of the premier shopping streets in the world. Currently it falls far short from that ideal with overcrowded pavements and poor-quality streetscape.
The opening of the Elizabeth Line in December 2018 will see footfall hugely increase, so capturing that opportunity through delivering a better shopping and leisure experience makes sense. However, more people visiting the area will increase demand for deliveries and servicing activity, so accommodating freight in the plans will be vital to the success of the scheme.
Operating in London is already challenging and expensive and the burden of any additional delays or costs cannot be expected to be shouldered by the freight industry, therefore the greatest possible effort should be made to ensure that there are no delays or disruptions.
The majority of traffic currently using Oxford Street comprises buses and taxis, so FTA welcomes the steps already taken to reduce bus movements by 40 per cent.
- Break Oxford Street up into sections and allow north-south crossing points
- Provide designated crossing points to allow access for those that do need to carry out deliveries and servicing activity or transit across Oxford Street
Review loading bays to assess whether they are appropriate to the needs of the area. There should ideally be a combination of larger loading bays (capable of taking a 13.6m trailer and cab) with longer loading/unloading times and more small bays for time-sensitive, low-volume, quick deliveries.
Mitigate the displacement of traffic
Traffic that can no longer use Oxford Street will not simply disappear, but is likely to shift to the side roads which are currently used by freight vehicles during the day and there will be other displacement effects across the wider West End. If this has a significant impact on journey times, then to meet customer service levels and to comply with EU Drivers’ hours rules, there is a risk that companies may respond by increasing the number of vehicles they use.
Enable retiming of deliveries
Allowing and encouraging deliveries to take place outside of the restricted hours along the full length of Oxford Street will give the most significant reduction in daytime traffic.
High land values mean that most retailers will have limited on-site stock-holding facilities. This can result in the need for further ‘top up’ deliveries during the day. FTA encourages TfL and WCC to identify if there are nearby sites that can be used for mini consolidation.
Supply chain consolidation
Many companies already consolidate loads on their vehicles, such as delivering both chilled and ambient products on one vehicle with separate compartments. Or they may use larger vehicles to facilitate multi-drops to more than one site reducing the number of separate trips required.
FTA is aware of the waste consolidation scheme on Bond Street which has seen a large reduction in the number of commercial waste vehicle movements. This approach could be considered for Oxford Street and the surrounding area, provided it is driven by a voluntary joint procurement approach rather than an outright ban on other waste providers which would be anti-competitive.
Consider sector specific challenges
Some sectors have specific challenges and needs. Time critical activity such as express mail deliveries and collections may be difficult to retime. Consideration also needs to be given for vehicular access for servicing activity and deliveries of materials and equipment for shop refurbishments and repairs most of which needs to happen during the day.
Find out more
Transformation of Oxford Street consultation: FTA Response