Thursday, 12 July 2007

The New Piazza

An image from 1975 (nicely illustrated by the fashion of the young lady in the foreground) when the Cathedral Piazza had just been opened. Originally, buildings ran across the front of the Cathedral, hiding the view from Victoria Street. The (Anglican) Church Commissioners, who owned the land, decided to redevelop it, and to open up this space before the Cathedral.

Since then, the Piazza has been both a blessing and a curse. In 2004 local residents and I met with the leader of Westminster City Council to tackle anti-social behaviour in and around the Cathedral Piazza. As leaseholder for this open space, the Council has a continuing duty to discharge properly its obligations under the terms of the lease. The idea of an ‘Action Plan’ was proposed by Council Officers as the way forward.

Consequently, over the past three years residents, local business, the Police, the Cathedral Authorities have all contributed considerable time and effort to finding a future for this important public space through a series of meetings and workshops with Council Officers. We estimate to have been involved in thirty five to forty meetings of one kind or another, with several of us undertaking background research and writing papers in support of the process. Two distinguished local public figures and a noted ecclesiastical architect have also given of their time and expertise. To date, two draft Action Plans have been issued to local stakeholders for comment, but no Action Plan has been forthcoming.

So, we await with some impatience the publishing of an Action Plan with will deal with the design, management and policing of this area, which has such great potential, but which is at the moment sterile and unattractive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know well the problems there have been with antisocial behaviour around the Piazza, and appreciate the steps that have been taken to alleviate this. One thing I find a problem as a person with mobility problems is the lack of seating there. There must be room for some seats that don't get in the way of the lovely view we have of the cathedral.