HC Deb 28 June 2004 vol 423 cc20-2
27. Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con)

What discussions the commissioners have had with the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey about the builder's yard between the abbey and St Margaret's church. [180459]

Second Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Stuart Bell)

The programme to achieve planning permission for the redevelopment of Mason's yard proceeds. The abbey has been in close contact with parliamentary estates and Westminster Abbey fabric commission, and has been supported by English Heritage. Funds are secure, and the work will start as soon as planning permission is granted.

Mr. Gray

The House will have heard the hon. Gentleman's reply with some horror. How can it be that, in the centre of the world heritage site that consists of the abbey, St. Margaret's and the Palace, we will cement a builders' yard that is hideous beyond belief? Surely, we can find some place to put that builders' rubbish, other than slap bang in the middle of a world heritage site?

Sir Stuart Bell

I am always grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his questions, but I should tell him that "The Rocky Horror Show" does not begin with the Church Commissioners. He will have noticed great improvements on the north side of the path adjacent to St. Margaret's church. I should like to pay significant homage to the Dean of Westminster, who carries on his duties when not always in the best of health. The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right to say that the abbey is part of our national heritage and, no doubt, that fact will be taken into account when any planning permission is given for the redevelopment of Mason's yard.