HL Deb 04 March 1975 vol 357 cc1189-90

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what future plans they have for Richmond Buildings in Richmond Terrace, Whitehall; whether they intend to develop or demolish them; and what future use they propose for the site in view of Sir Leslie Martin's scheme.


My Lords, in his plan for Whitehall Sir Leslie Martin proposed that Richmond Terrace should be demolished. Later, following a public inquiry, the Willis Report recommended that the Terrace should not be demolished and that a satisfactory scheme for the re-development of this particular area of Whitehall could be achieved by preserving the facades. The Government endorse this recommendation. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment hopes to commission shortly a study designed to examine and cost redevelopment options consistent with the preservation of the facades.


My Lords, is the Minister aware that when I was the Minister concerned in the reception of Sir Leslie's scheme ten years ago, certain decisions were taken, but that all that seems to have happened since has been the Willis Inquiry and a tedious degree of procrastination? Is my noble friend aware that I visited these premises last week, that they are an inglorious slum and that there is nothing to be done about them except to go back to the original wise decision, taken under my Ministry, to have them demolished?

Baroness BIRK

My Lords, while not for a moment questioning my noble friend's wisdom, which I know to be very great, I should point out that nowadays it is recognised that a policy of conservation coupled with sensitive, gradual and small-scale renewal is much more fitting for an area of such historic importance as Whitehall, which is now a conservation area. In reply to my noble friend's second point, Richmond Terrace was used as offices until 1973, when it was considered unsafe. It has been empty since then and it is in order to carry on the scheme proposed in the Willis Report that the Secretary of State for the Environment is setting up a study.


My Lords, is my noble friend firmly of the opinion—which I am not—that the Minister for the Environment knows the difference between conservation and preservation?

Viscount ST. DAVIDS

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that I am very unhappy to know that I was bom in a slum—the building in question—but that I am very glad to hear that at least the facade is to be preserved?