Oxford Street District

The Oxford Street District project is to be subject to a new independent review conducted by the former Chief Executive of Camden Council.

Mike Cooke, who served as Chief Executive for Camden for seven years, will conduct the review amid “significant concerns” over the scheme’s lack of progress.

The £150 million project was launched by the previous Westminster administration and included the now infamous Marble Arch Mound and plans for Oxford Circus Piazzas.

Council leader Adam Hug said the review was part of a process to “learn lessons”, and would focus on public realm improvements.

He said: “Upon taking office our administration had significant concerns about the level of progress on the Oxford Street District programme over recent years, so in addition to taking steps to move the project forwards, we feel an independent review of the Oxford Street District programme will allow us to ensure any lessons are learned and shared across the council, further strengthening the delivery of this important work and other projects.

“We remain committed to working with residential communities, local businesses and also our strategic partners, with a new tightened focus on introducing public realm improvements to Oxford Street itself which we will share next week.”

In addition to making recommendations for any changes, the review will cover the programme’s spend to date, which totals £35 million, including £6 million on the mound.

The Oxford Street District was originally launched in 2018 and has seen a raft of developments in and around the area, including new trees and seating areas and an art corner on Ramillies Street.

There’s also a particular focus on learning from mistakes, in particular that of the Marble Arch Mound. Erected as a temporary attraction to boost footfall following the pandemic, the viewing platform was widely lambasted, with some comparing it to the Teletubbies hill.

The findings of the review are expected to be made public after being reported to the Council Leader and Cabinet, and may also be considered by the Scrutiny Committee.

However certain details, such as commercially sensitive information, may not be made public.

Council Chief Executive Stuart Love implied that while “key findings” would be disclosed, specific findings regarding council processes may be withheld.

He said: “As a learning council, we are keen to understand and learn any lessons that will help us deliver better projects in the future.

“We will make sure that any key findings are made public as well as shared with council staff, but I wish to make it clear that this review is about our processes and supports our continual and ongoing focus on improving how we work in all areas.”

Main image: Flickr/Robert Cutts.

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