HC Deb 26 April 1888 vol 325 cc588-90
MR. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)

asked the First Commissioner of Works, Whether he has seen a letter published in The Standard newspaper of the 25th instant, and signed by Messrs. Bonner, Wright, Thompson, and Co., in which it was stated that, unless the freeholder of the site of the Albert Gate buildings should make a reduction in its price, and he (the First Commissioner) should give "a sum in aid," the promoters intend, regardless of the serious danger to public safety and public health, and of the great injury to Hyde Park, to carry the buildings there, now in course of erection, to a height of over 180 feet; and, whether, in view of the fact that he will thus be unable to obtain any substantial undertaking that the buildings will be kept down to a proper height only, and as the only protection now possible for the public in the matter lies in his hands, by preventing all access of light from the Park front, he will now state his determination to do that which would practically put an end to the scheme, unless such modifications in it should be made as would wholly prevent permanent injury being done to the Park and the neighbourhood?


So far as I am concerned, the case as to the proposed mansions at Albert Gate stands as follows:—Hon. Members will remember that on the 16th of this month I stated in the House that I was in communication with the solicitors and architects with a view to obtaining some diminution of the height, which, as I understood, was intended to be 130 feet; but that I had not then received any satisfactory answer. On the 20th of April I wrote a letter to the effect that, as they seemed to decline to enter into any conference on the subject, I had given orders to have the Park wall raised, and required them to remove some of their scaffolding, which projects over the wall, so that my contractors might go to work at once. On the following day I received a letter from their solicitors apologizing for delay, and asking me to take no further steps towards building the threatened wall until I should again hear from them. On the 23rd the solicitors and architects called at the Office of Works, and asked that we should stay further action until they should send us their completed designs, which were being lithographed. We agreed, but said that we should expect those designs to be sent within a few days; and the House may rest assured that, unless I am satisfied on the subject of the height of the proposed mansions, I shall proceed with the erection of my wall, which will, to a considerable extent, prevent access of light to the buildings on the Park side. I have, of course, no wish to interfere unreasonably with the persons who have bought this site in turning their bargain to the best advantage; but the interests of the public must not be sacrificed. The idea that the Government should contribute money to recoup them for any diminution of their profits seems to me to be absurd.


asked, how much public money it was intended to waste in erecting a wall to obstruct the light of these buildings?


said, he did not consider it would be a waste of money. He hoped, however, it would not be necessary to erect the wall at all.


asked, whether the blank wall would not be just as unsightly?


said, the wall would only be erected if the mansions were erected to the threatened height.


said, he should certainly oppose any expenditure for such a purpose.