Report of the Executive Director, Growth, Planning and Housing
10.1 Councillor Richard Beddoe, Cabinet Member for Place Shaping and Planning, introduced the report which outlined the results of the public consultation on the Oxford Street District - Draft Place Strategy and Delivery Plan which took place between the 6th November and 16 December 2018.
10.2 Councillor Beddoe advised that the consultation generated the highest number of responses to a Council led consultation exercise. There were a total of 2,154 completed consultation responses. 66% of overall respondents stating they supported the Place Strategy principles with 73% support from resident respondents. There was broad support for a fresh approach for the design of the whole area.
10.3 The Cabinet Member asked Cabinet to approve the updates to the Place Strategy and Delivery Plan which had been made as a result of the consultation feedback. These included: (i) revising some of the overarching place-based principles and removing the numbering to show that they are all of equal importance; (ii) including additional information in a number of areas but in particular in relation to air quality and (iii) changes to the delivery plan.
10.4 Councillor Beddoe advised that subject to Cabinet’s approval for the Strategy and Delivery Plan, a business case would be developed to support the Council’s £150 million investment which will be presented at the next Cabinet meeting on 8th of April 2019. The intention was for modelling works to begin in the spring with physical works to follow in the autumn.
10.5 Barbara Brownlee, Executive Director for Growth, Planning & Housing, commented that people are anxious to see more details regarding the scheme. She referred Cabinet to the programme governance outlined in the report which set out arrangements for keeping members informed.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
a) acknowledged the results of the public consultation;
b) approved the updates to the Place Strategy and Delivery Plan made as a result of the consultation feedback;
c) noted the development of a business case to support the Council’s £150m investment which will be presented at the next Cabinet meeting on 8th April 2019;
d) agreed the Governance arrangements for the project and the reporting to monitor progress of the programme’s delivery.
Reasons for Decision
(a) The Council’s commitment to the Oxford Street District is to create a long term and ambitious vision for the whole of the district that will strengthen its world-renowned status as a great place to live, work and visit. Its strategy will support the ambition and respond to the big challenges that the district faces, including: a rapidly evolving retail environment; a place that can cater to greater numbers of people; providing more attractions; and for Oxford Street to be a better neighbour to the wider district, including the residential neighbourhoods. In the wake of strong competition from retail hubs like Westfield; online shopping; increased business rates; and interest rates, the retailers and businesses in the district are finding the trading environment very challenging.
(b) One of the reasons for adopting a place-based approach is to ensure that the variety exhibited throughout the district is celebrated and enhanced. The analysis demonstrates the complexity of the district, while the principles and example projects illustrate why a more place specific approach should be taken. This was emphasised during the engagement phase where both residents and key stakeholders reinforced the need for a more localised approach. Consequently, the strategy also pulls together the many ambitions of our stakeholders for their specific areas, including residents associations and neighbourhood forums, and starts to bring these together along with new ideas for the district.
(c) The Council believes that the district would benefit from adopting a place-based approach to determine how to deal with the current and future opportunities and issues. Owing to the complexities of the district, a more responsive approach to developing a range of solutions across the area needs to be adopted. The Council supports the need for a mixed use district and one that places strong emphasis on the amenity of its local residential communities. All this is essential if the district is to continue to thrive. The Council has now developed a Place Strategy and Delivery Plan for the Oxford Street District which has taken on the views of stakeholders via the recent consultation exercise.
(d) The Council recognises that investment in the district is required in order to retain its status as the nation’s high street and a world-renowned destination for domestic and international visitors. The coherent and district wide programme will ensure that the Oxford Street District strengthens its reputation. It is also essential that investment helps to improve the liveability of the district and provide a greater amenity for our residents. On 7th November 2018, full Council approved the Capital Strategy including allocation of £150 million towards the delivery of the final adopted Place Strategy and Delivery Plan (subject to approval to spend supported by a business case providing a strong rationale for investment). The Council will take responsibility for delivering an ambitious set of projects that will help to bring about a significant change to counter some of the external factors that the district currently faces. Additional funding to support the delivery of the projects listed in the Place Strategy will be required from external sources.
(e) The updated Place Strategy clearly outlines the rationale for why a place-based approach will achieve both the collective ambition of the Council and its stakeholders, to improve the district and help to ensure its long-term future. Key to this is a set of 15 overarching place principles that will be delivered by the projects listed in the Delivery Plan.
(f) The consultation has confirmed majority support for the principles outlined in the Place Strategy and Delivery Plan. The strategy has been updated to reflect comments and concerns. The recommendations in this report are for the Cabinet to approve the updates to the Place Strategy and Delivery Plan and for the supporting business case to be developed.