HC Deb 01 February 1999 vol 324 cc517-8W
Mr. Leigh

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what further progress has been made on formulating plans for vacating the Marsham Street offices and demolishing them. [68316]

Mr. Kilfoyle

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated under the terms of the Framework Document to Property Advisers to the Civil Estate. I have asked its Chief Executive, Mr. John Locke, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from John C. Locke to Mr. Edward Leigh, dated 29 January 1999: The Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office, Peter Kilfoyle, has asked me as Chief Executive of Property Advisers to the Civil Estate (PACE) to respond to your Parliamentary Question about further progress on the future of 2 Marsham Street as management responsibility for the building rests with this Agency. As you are already aware, 2 Marsham Street is a Government freehold and until April last year was occupied by the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). Since your earlier question on 10 June the building has remained vacant, save for the use of a limited part as a winter shelter for some of London's homeless. This Government initiative will end on 31 March, by which time a decision may well have been taken about the possible reuse of Marsham Street as temporary decant accommodation for another Government Department while its premises are refurbished. Such temporary re-use might last for 3 to 4 years. If re-use of the building cannot be justified in Exchequer terms, arrangements will be made to commence demolition. PACE has already advertised the demolition contract through the Official Journal of the European Community (OJEC) and retains in its possession the expressions of interest that were received in response to the advertisement. Should Marsham Street remain unoccupied, PACE will review these expressions of interest together with all the other considerations related to the demolition of such a large building in a heavily built-up area like Westminster. On completion of the review, our intention would be to seek Ministerial approval to announce a start date for demolition. The work would be expected to take some 18 months following the letting of a contract.