HC Deb 05 February 2002 vol 379 cc849-50W
Mr. Greg Knight

To ask the President of the Council what discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues and others over proposals to pedestrianise part of Parliament Square; what steps he intends to take to ensure that right hon. and hon. Members are properly consulted about such proposals before work proceeds; and what assessment he has made of whether the proposals will cause disruption to right hon. and hon. Members when attending the House. [33110]

Mr. Robin Cook

In 1997, a steering group led by the Government Office for London and Westminster city council commissioned a master plan entitled "World Squares for All" prepared by Sir Norman Foster and a supporting team of professional firms. The aims of the master plan were to improve the setting of historic sites; reduce traffic congestion and make pedestrian movement safer and more pleasant; to improve bus services; and to improve street design.

The study area covered Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Parliament Square and Old Palace Yard. A public exhibition displaying the master plan options was launched by the Deputy Prime Minister in December 1997, and the exhibition material was subsequently displayed for Members of both Houses of Parliament in the Royal Gallery. The Accommodation and Works Committee was consulted at that time.

From the results of the public consultation a preferred strategy was identified and the Government Office for London with Westminster city council began a feasibility study for just phase 1:Trafalgar Square.

In February 2000, a Minister from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Minister for London launched an exhibition and public consultation exercise on the Trafalgar Square proposals. 16,000 leaflets and questionnaires were distributed. The Greater London Authority took over the lead role later that year and they have recently let a contract to implement the Trafalgar Square works.

Beyond the master plan of 1997, no planning has yet been done on future phases for Whitehall and Parliament Square. However, the Mayor has indicated interest in seeing future phases progress. The Director of Parliamentary Estates represents parliamentary interests in the World Squares for All Steering Group and will ensure that there is proper consultation if plans for Parliament Square do progress.