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Boris axes Parliament Square regeneration plans

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DSDHA, Vogt Landscape Architects and Hawkins\Brown's £18 million scheme to revamp Parliament Square into a pedestrianised piazza has been axed.

The shock decision to scrap the scheme, which would have seen the currently inaccesible grass square in front of Westminster Abbey paved over, was taken by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who yesterday (9 July) released his new vision for the city 'Planning for a better London' (www.london.gov.uk/mayor/planning/plan-better-london.jsp).

It is believed that Transport for London had lobbied for it to be scrapped because it feared that the proposed closure of the road in front of Westminster Abbey would lead to increased congestion.

It is also understood the high-profile scheme was dropped over fears that construction work on the project would affect the World Heritage Site (WHS), the protection of which is something Johnson has listed among his top priorities.

'All such schemes are being put on hold until well after the 2012 Olympics and perhaps for at least the next 10 years, ' a source claimed.

However, Hawkins\Brown's Roger Hawkins denied that the scheme has been axed, claiming that only the public consultation for the scheme had been put on hold.

He said: 'We have not changed our programme of works. The public consultation is on hold until the review of the traffic impact is completed [by Hyder and Colin Buchanan] in a few weeks.'

'I spoke to Boris last night and he said he wants more information [on the traffic impact] before he makes his decision'.

Speaking at the launch of Planning for a Better London, Johnson also said that squares, parks and urban space earmarked for overhauls under Design for London's 100 Public Spaces programme would be subject to review.

The AJ understands that plans to revamp Victoria Gardens on Victoria Embankment will now also be scrapped due to traffic congestion.

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