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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 March 2021

New hill with viewing platform to tempt shoppers back to London’s world-famous Oxford Street

‘Marble Arch Hill’ project will include greenery and visitors’ centre in bid to revitalise shopping area post-lockdown

The hill will operate initially for six months. MVRDV
The hill will operate initially for six months. MVRDV

A temporary 25-metre-high hill with a viewing gallery is being planned as part of efforts to attract visitors back to central London after lockdown measures are eased.

The construction, part of a £150 million ($208m) blueprint to revitalise Oxford Street, is planned for the west end of the road at Marble Arch, near Hyde Park.

Oxford Street is normally the busiest shopping thoroughfare in England, home to flagship shops and exclusive outlets, and is a short stroll from Regent Street, Bond Street and Piccadilly in the heart of London.

The Marble Arch Hill project will have trees and grass, a viewing platform and visitors’ centre, and will operate initially for six months, according to Westminster City Council.

Marble Arch Hill. MVRDV
At least a fifth of the shops on Oxford Street have shut down permanently. MVRDV

Oxford Street attracted about 200 million visitors a year in pre-Covid times but footfall has plunged with the decline in tourists and lockdown restrictions. The usually crowded area has become eerily quiet in a time of social distancing.

As a result of the economic turmoil, some of Oxford Street’s famous residents closed for good, including the flagship Debenhams branch.

At least a fifth of the shops on Oxford Street closed permanently, according to data from the New West End Company, a lobby group for businesses in the area.

"The past 12 months have been the toughest on record for businesses on Oxford Street and the surrounding area.

"These ambitious plans are a sign of a forward-thinking, sustainable and agile future for the district, creating an altogether stronger and more exciting high street that caters to the needs of the ever-evolving consumer," NWEC chief executive Jace Tyrrell said.

Another proposal, the Oxford Street District Plan, includes measures to improve public areas with more space for pedestrians, pop-up parks and open-air theatres.

In the longer term, efforts will be made to reduce the area’s traffic congestion, improve air quality, repurpose empty retail space and encourage a wider range of businesses and innovative start-ups, reducing Oxford Street’s reliance on retail.

See images of Lockdown London:

Updated: February 17, 2021 09:03 PM

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