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Kensington Gardens: Memorial Garden

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 3 September 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 7 July (

Official Report, col. 1090), whether they will provide monthly (or failing that, quarterly) figures for visitors to Kensington Gardens for the last two years; and [HL2754]

Which authority would be responsible for providing information to the planning authority in connection with the creation of one or more Princess Diana Memorial Gardens in Kensington Gardens on—(a) traffic implications, within Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster and central London generally, including the implications for public transport (buses and underground trains and stations) for regular (timetabled) coaches and for tour coaches (including loading and unloading and parking facilities); (b) public lavatories; (c) visitors' centres and gift shops; (d) refreshment facilities (fixed and mobile); (e) existing children's playgrounds and areas where skating is allowed; (f) policing; on whom would the costs of providing all of these services fall; and to whom would profits (if any) accrue. [HL2756]

Responsibility for the subject of these questions has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr. David Welch. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Kennet from the Head of Policy of the Royal Parks Agency, Viviane Robertson, dated 31 July 1998:

In the absence of the Chief Executive, Mr. David Welsh, I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reply to your Parliamentary Questions about the numbers of people visiting Kensington Gardens in the last two years and who will provide information relating to different aspects of the proposal for a memorial garden to Diana, Princess of Wales, to the planning authority.

We do not take monthly or quarterly counts of visitors in the Royal Parks in the normal course of events; we could not justify the considerable expense of conducting the surveys that would be necessary. The last annual visitor count was carried out in 1995. This estimated that 2.8 million people a year visit Kensington Gardens. We did carry out a visitor count in March as part of a survey to establish people's views on a proposed memorial in Kensington Gardens and we are carrying out a further count this month to find out how many people visit the Gardens in the summer. The total number of visitors for March was estimated to be 340,000.

The Royal Parks Agency will commission an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which will cover the services and facilities to which you refer. The results of the study would be submitted to the local planning authorities as part of any planning notification.

It is likely that a number of different bodies would be involved in providing services which might be required for the proposed memorial garden and thus in benefiting from any potential profits. The Royal Parks Agency would only be responsible for services within Kensington Gardens. The preliminary consultation exercise and the EIA are yet to be completed, but it is not at present envisaged that sales outlets for souvenirs, a visitor centre or additional catering concessions would be established in Kensington Gardens.

asked Her Majesty's Government:By whom a "full Environmental Impact Assessment" is being carried out regarding a possible Memorial Garden to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, in Kensington Gardens; and why this assessment is being carried out in advance of the result of the public consultation on the desirability or otherwise of such a garden being established in Kensington Gardens. [HL2820]

The Royal Parks Agency are commissioning an environmental impact assessment in parallel with the consultation exercise. Expressions of interest have been sought, but the response to the preliminary consultation exercise will be available to the Memorial Committee before the contract is let. Nonetheless, it is clear that many local concerns relate to environmental issues which need to be professionally assessed.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What are the implications for the possible Memorial Garden to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, of the inclusion of Hawksmoor's Orangery, the formal garden to the south of the Orangery, and the sunken garden, in "Area 3" of the map on the leaflet accompanying the questionnaire issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. [HL2821]

The proposals which are currently the subject of a preliminary consultation exercise clearly set out the principles which should guide the proposals, as advised by English Heritage, the Royal Parks Agency and the Historic Royal Palaces trust, which is responsible for the Orangery and sunken garden. The preliminary consultation document recognises that any design for area 3, which extends up to the Bayswater Road, would be constrained by the historical framework in the area lying between the Orangery and Kensington Palace.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the questionnaire on the possible Memorial Garden to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has been sent to all residents round Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, or only to "householders"; if so, whether "householders" include the offshore landlords of property in these areas, who may never or only infrequently reside there; why the consultation should be thus limited; whether they will now consult all individuals on the electoral register in the relevant parts of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster; and, if not, why not. [HL2822]

I understand that the leaflets and questionnaires have been distributed in addresses closest to Kensington Gardens in postal areas W1, W2, W8, W11 and W14 and SW1, SW3, SW5, SW7 and SW 10. The principal purpose of the leaflet is to inform people of the exhibition, where they can see the full information on the proposals. The aim is to gain a broadly representative sample of views and suggestions, and this exercise provides a very much greater opportunity for public comment at a much earlier stage than normal. Posting to all persons on the electoral register would have been expensive, excessive and inappropriate for a preliminary exercise of this nature.