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Westminster City Council unveils plans for 'urban theatre' as part of Oxford Street transformation

The initiative will aim to welcome people back to the area

An artist's impression of a group of spectators standing in front of a woman in a long skirt
© Westminster City Council

Westminster City Council has unveiled plans for completely transforming the Oxford Street area, providing outdoor and socially distanced opportunities for visitors, traders and cultural organisations.

Described as the "Oxford Street District Framework", the plans include aims for "urban theatre" spaces for outdoor performance. These are said to have "features that create a sense of enlivenment, with ‘smart' technology-based installations, and concept lighting".

Details have not been set in stone, and it is unclear which organisations may be taking part in this "urban theatre" strategy or how performances might be programmed. All experiences are expected to feature social distancing to mitigate risks.

Footpaths in the area will be broadened, with traffic diversions and additional "street dressing" to provide a greener, more pleasant experience for those visiting. The council has also pledged to do away with "all redundant or unnecessary clutter" across the street, conventionally one of the busiest in the country but, due to the pandemic, seeing a marked decrease in footfall.

The plans are expected to be an "an opportunity to test and experiment", and could be delivered by late spring 2021.

There are also proposals to build a giant 82-foot hill at Marble Arch, that visitors can pay to climb, allowing them to look out over central London and Hyde Park.

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