HC Deb 21 March 1997 vol 292 cc986-7W
Mr. Derek Foster

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has made for the future of Admiralty Arch. [21429]

Mr. Freeman

Good progress is being made with preparations for the transfer of this important historic building to a new body that will enable it to be renovated and re-used for the benefit of organisations concerned with the promotion of London.

The executive agency currently responsible for its management, Property Advisers to the Civil Estate has drawn up a long lease providing for its occupation by a not-for-profit company or trust representing Londoners' interests through business, local government, the voluntary sector and faith communities. The lease would be subject to the availability of appropriate funding, for example from the national lottery heritage fund. It is envisaged that the trust would be headed by a co-chairmanship.

The new organisation would then be responsible for the refurbishment and maintenance of Admiralty Arch and for arranging for its occupation by appropriate bodies whose purpose is the promotion of London. Several charities and similar organisations have already expressed strong interest.

In the meantime, work is about to begin on strengthening the building. This will entail sequential closures of the arches to traffic and pedestrians which will be phased over the next 16 weeks in order to minimise disruption.