Examination of Witness (Questions 420
WEDNESDAY 7 MARCH 2001
420. Just moving to a square much closer to
where we are, Whitehall and Parliament Square, what plans do you
have for Parliament Square?which currently is rather a
(Mr Turner) This, the Trafalgar Square Scheme, is
the first phase of World Squares for All. The Mayor is committed
to see the whole of the World Squares for All programme introduced,
in principle, but, again, he is not highway authority for the
roads. The next phase is that we would be looking to see, in the
first instance, Westminster City Council take them forward. But
the Mayor has, in principle, a commitment to the policy of the
World Squares for All programme.
421. What would be the timetable for Whitehall
and Parliament Square?
(Mr Turner) We do not have a detailed timetable yet
because it would follow on from these proposals. We are starting
to consider the next phases, but obviously works will not start
in detail until after 2003.
422. So you do not have preliminary designs
(Mr Turner) The World Squares for All project has
outline designs and they would include great improvement in the
pedestrian facilities down Whitehall and pedestrianisation of
Parliament Square between St Margaret's and the square centre,
in a similar sort of way, very broadly, to what we are proposing
in Trafalgar Square.
423. Could I go back to Trafalgar Square. Can
you tell me where all the traffic is going to go?
(Mr Turner) We have done extensive computer modelling
of the whole of this area. It is our view that we will be able
to manage the traffic signals to pull the traffic back. This is
one of the areas where Westminster has had concerns: Westminster's
view was that it was not happy for the scheme to proceed unless
there was some restraint mechanism in central London. The restraint
mechanism in central London which the Mayor is keen to proceed
with is in terms of congestion charging. With congestion charging,
the reduction in central London trips of about 10 to 15 per cent
will mean that this scheme could be introduced relatively easily,
compared to what would happen if we had to deal with the current
levels of traffic in this area. The main emphasis is actually
to hold and queue traffic outside the area and to manage the traffic
signal arrangements. Because the traffic going through Trafalgar
Square is actually coming from quite long distances, the diversionary
patterns are quite wide and far, it is not as concentrated as
you would expect. Just because of the nature of the network, a
lot of traffic does come from, effectively, the inner ring road,
cutting through central London, and we do not want that to occur.
424. The top end that you are talking about,
what is the present traffic movement through that street? To me
it looks as though it is one of the heaviest in London at present.
(Mr Turner) It is not one of the heaviest in London.
I do not have the figures to hand, but I could provide them in
a written response.
425. It would be useful if you could.
(Mr Turner) And the traffic pattern: the issue is
not so much how we are managing that particular area; the critical
position is down at King Charles statue, south of the Square,
where we are having a signalised roundabout. If you look at the
way the current system operates at this moment, there is a series
of traffic signal junctions through Trafalgar Square, and there
is a lot of, what we would call, lost time, where traffic is actually
stopping at various junctions. By concentrating the movement at
one particular location, we can make a more efficient arrangement
in terms of the way the signals operate.
426. But you are going to continue to have it
as one-way traffic?
(Mr Turner) No. There is no traffic at the North Terrace.
There is two-way traffic coming down St Martin's Place. Originally
the plans were for one-way traffic, but that did produce quite
a lot of diversionary routes, which Westminster found quite unacceptable.
The steering group modified the proposals in such a way that we
limit the amount of traffic coming down the east side without
actually prohibiting the amount of traffic coming down St Martin's
Place, and there are consequences with queue management further
up Charing Cross Road. We believe that we can make the signal
controlled roundabout arrangement work at the southern end.
427. You said in your submission that it can
take, in the worst case, up to nine minutes to get from one side
of Trafalgar Square to the other. To what will this plan cut that
figure for the most difficult journey?
(Mr Turner) Again, I do not have the details to hand,
but I would imagine that we are talking in terms of about four
minutes. It would be a much more pleasant environment. The most
difficult route is effectively from Northumberland Avenue to the
National Gallery (Sainsbury Wing). Obviously, once you have crossed
Northumberland Avenue to the centre (which is expected to be two
cycles of the signals) you are into a pedestrian environment.
Previously you had to cross a number of crossings through the
Strand, come through St Martin's Place and then cross up here
twice, to get over to the extension to the National Gallery.
428. Will it actually improve the safety of
the square for events as well? One of the arguments has been that
the back wall will stop people using the square to the maximum
(Mr Turner) We believe that this will make a much
more integrated approach and make it a genuine square in terms
of a pedestrian realm. Because the Mayor has management of the
square (under the Greater London Authority Act) he will be able
to introduce a management environment which ensures that for events
there is a greater control. Certainly the police are happy with
these proposals. I have been involved in consultation with them
on the wider public order security arrangements for the square.
429. You say that that scheme is going to cost
£25 million. How much did it cost to change the system at
(Mr Turner) I did not carry that work out but I can
try to find out from the Royal Parks Agency who did.
430. Is that £25 million going to be spent
in Trafalgar Square itself.
(Mr Turner) The £25 million is for the coloured
arrangements that you can see here (referring to plan)
plus also changes to
431. Are you trying to compete with Portcullis
House as to how much each tree is going to cost?
(Mr Turner) It also covers the bus priority measures.
One of the requirements for the steering group was that we should
not adversely affect any of the bus services going through therethis
is a major bus node on the bus network. The arrangements are such
that we do not, but, to do that, we have to carry out traffic
management measures on the approaches to the scheme over quite
a wide area in terms of bus priority. That is part of the £25
million. The other thing is that this is really right at the heart
of London and we are looking at the highest quality materials.
That is one of the reasons why we are putting in for the Heritage
Lottery Fund bid. If we do not get a Heritage Lottery Fund application,
we will have to review the quality of the materials used. One
of the things, for instance, is that we are anxious, once we have
carried out the extensive quality paving through here, that we
do not actually get it dug up straight away by statutory undertakers.
We are in discussions with statutory undertakers and we are making
an allowance in the £25 million for them to carry out any
works that they have in their programme in this area in advance,
so that we can limit it being dug up again. We are also looking
at the possibility of putting the utilities into tunnels.
432. It sounds to me as though Dick Whittington
came to London too early. They are now going to have the pavements
paved with gold.
(Mr Turner) Not quite gold; probably granite.
433. Could I move on from there. When will the
Mayor's Transport Strategy be completed?
(Mr Turner) The Mayor is consulting on the Draft Transport
Strategy and that consultation ends at the end of March. The proposal
and the programme is that he will review the results of the consultation
and publish the formal document in July.
434. So when will it be approved?
(Mr Turner) In July.
435. How will "connected, safe, convenient
and attractive walking routes" be created?
(Mr Turner) What we are trying to do is to enter into
partnerships with the local boroughs to ensure that they have
the facilities to provide those sort of routes. We are looking
at a number of pilot routes, in terms of an east/west and north/south
route, which are travelling over a large length of the capital,
going from, in the north, Hampstead and Highgate, down to the
south at Waterloo, and from London Bridge through to Shepherd's
Bush and beyond. Again, they are centring on Trafalgar Square
and passing through Trafalgar Square, so this sort of heart of
the pedestrian realm for central London is what we are intending
436. What will be the main features of those
(Mr Turner) They would be signed routes and they would
be liveried, but we would also be ensuring that there are proper
pedestrian crossing facilities along those routes.
437. What do you expect is the timetable for
(Mr Turner) That is going to be set out in the detailed
final version of the Transport Strategy once we have established
that it is an acceptable proposal.
438. These proposals have a dreadful habit of
slippage. Given what you have said, are you guaranteeing delivery
on the dates that you are going to set, or is there going to be
slippage, as is usual?
(Mr Turner) I would like to be able to guarantee those
dates, but you will appreciate that unless the money is provided
by Central Government I cannot guarantee them. Certainly the Mayor
is convinced that walking is a mode of transport which he wishes
to promote, as my memorandum has indicated. It is a sustainable
mode and I do not see any reason why the Mayor will not be pushing
the local authorities through various statutory processes that
are available to ensure that those two routes are actually built.
439. You have said in your submission that you
have set a target for a 40 per cent reduction in the number of
fatalities and injuries by 2010. Can you tell us what proportion
of the current fatalities and injuries occur on the roads for
which you have responsibility as opposed to the boroughs.
(Mr Turner) Just to give you some idea, the Mayor
has responsibility for five per cent of the network and it carries
33 per cent of the traffic. The local authorities have the remainder
up to 100 per cent. In accident terms, they have 75 per cent of
the accidents. Therefore, we have about 25 per cent of the accidents
on our five per cent of the roadsa higher proportion of
accidents, but, bearing in mind the exposure, they are safer than
the local authority roads.
1 Note by witness: 2,500-3,000 vehicles per hour throughout
much of the day along the North Terrace Back