Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 409 - 419)




  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, please.

  (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.

Mr Brake

  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 see them.


  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.

Mrs Dunwoody

  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 round—and 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 scheme—and I think you have been sent a copy of the current leaflet—shows 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 excellence.

Mr Brake

  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 reduced scheme.
  (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 than you.

Mr Brake

  417. Because the lines on your diagram do look a bit like flight paths.
  (Mr Turner) They are desire lines for people crossing the square.

Mrs Dunwoody

  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.

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