Examination of Witness (Questions 409
WEDNESDAY 7 MARCH 2001
409. May I welcome everyone to the further session
of the Select Committee's inquiry into Walking in Towns. May I
welcome you to the Committee and ask you to identify yourself,
(Mr Turner) I am Derek Turner. I am the
managing director of Transport for London with responsibility
for street management. I am also chairman of the Transport Board
of the Institution of Civil Engineers. I would like to tender
the apologies of Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London. Unfortunately,
his diary commitments mean that he is unable to attend.
Mr Donohoe: Shocking!
Mrs Dunwoody: Disgraceful!
410. Do you want to make an opening statement
or are you happy for us to go straight to questions?
(Mr Turner) I am quite happy for you to go straight
to questions, Chairman.
Chairman: Thank you very much.
411. Mr Turner, can you tell us what the timetable
is for implementing the World Squares for All initiative?
(Mr Turner) Yes, we have taken over World Squares
from Westminster City Council, because they were reluctant to
pick up the challenge of it and the Mayor has stepped in, but
we are still working in consultation with them. We submitted last
month a planning application for the World Squares' project to
Westminster City Council and a bid for Heritage Lottery Funding
was also submitted last month. Planning approval is expected in
June and the decision of the Heritage Lottery Fund in July. In
November this year, we expect to start the main construction contracts,
with, in February 2003, the start of the main staircase, which
is at the back wall of the square. The contracts are expected
to be completed during May 2003. I have boards here which I can
use to explain a bit more about the work if you would wish to
412. Yes, I think that would be helpful.
(Mr Turner) (Referring to map): This is obviously
a map of Trafalgar Square as we know it. This is the National
Gallery. There is a wall at the back of the square which is a
critical part. There is the main terrace, and then there is obviously
the traffic gyratory system around the whole square, with a very
narrow footway outside the National Gallery. (Referring to
colour-coded plan): We have carried out a considerable amount
of analysis of the pedestrian movement, and this shows existing
pedestrian movement. Pedestrians are quite difficult to analyse,
as you can understand, because they do not follow on rails or
anything like that.
413. Not yet!
(Mr Turner) The warmer the colours are, the greater
the intensity of movement that is actually taking place at present.
You can see that there is a desire line across this wall at the
back of the square. We have picked the start point and the end
point, and that trip (indicating route on plan)
may actually now go all the way roundand probably does
because crossing into the centre of the square is quite a hazardous
trip to take on foot currently. That led us to concentrate on
trying to improve conditions for pedestrians between the square
and the National Gallery. The schemeand I think you have
been sent a copy of the current leafletshows that we are
totally pedestrianising this area, the north side. It will make
a very large open space, to extend the square and the linkage
from Trafalgar Square to the National Gallery. The proposal is
to create very large new steps through the back wall, which will
completely transform the square and link it through to the terrace
and the National Gallery. That will, in my view, make a fitting
heart for the City -and not just for the City but for the country
and probably the world, really making it a World Square par
414. You said in your opening response that
Westminster were unwilling to take up the challenge. Does this
mean that they are going to be constructive or destructive in
terms of the plan that you have put in for approval?
(Mr Turner) We hope that they are going to be constructive.
The arrangement is that because the roads still remain the responsibility
of Westminster City Council, they are entering into an agreement
under the Highways Act with Transport for London to enable us
to construct the scheme. Once the works are completed, the highway
will revert to Westminster City Council, so we are hopeful that
this is going to be a constructive partnership.
415. You also mention the bid for Heritage Lottery
Funding. Is that something on which the whole scheme is dependent?
If, for some reason, that funding were not forthcoming, would
the whole thing fall?
(Mr Turner) The Heritage Lottery Fund is an important
part of the scheme. The total scheme cost is £25 million
and the Mayor is committed to see the scheme proceed. It is important
that we try to ensure that maximum quality of the environment
and respect for the historical environment is recognised in the
detailed designs. We believe we should get support from the Heritage
Lottery Fund to enable the scheme to proceed. Should the Heritage
Lottery Fund bid not be successful, we would have to look again
at the cost plan and there may be impacts on the quality of work
that we would be able to put in.
416. So you would proceed but perhaps with a
(Mr Turner) With reduced quality probably.
Mr Brake: What consideration has been given
to pigeons as part of your World Square initiative?
Mrs Dunwoody: Why was the man arrested who was
taking them 25 at a time? He seemed to be doing rather better
417. Because the lines on your diagram do look
a bit like flight paths.
(Mr Turner) They are desire lines for people crossing
418. Desire lines. I have to say, that is not
my definition of a desire line.
(Mr Turner) It is the way people actually would like
to walk if they were able to.
419. Desire lines!
(Mr Turner) The question of pigeons is not under my
responsibility; it is directly under the responsibility of the
GLA, as opposed to Transport for London. Clearly the Mayor is
concerned about the environment of Trafalgar Square generally
and has a view on the pigeons and the way that the pigeons should
be managed within the Trafalgar Square area, but that is not a
matter under my control.