Plans for Parliament Square piazza shelved

Plans to transform Parliament Square into a pedestrianised piazza in time for the Olympics have been shelved by Boris Johnson.

The Mayor's office said he was reviewing the proposals amid concern that closing off streets would cause jams.

Under the plans, the road in front of Westminster Abbey would be closed to cars and the lawn at the centre replaced with stone paving and benches. The new design was predicted to attract 30 million visitors a year.

Mr Johnson suggested to Building Design magazine that Parliament Square was unlikely to be the only major public space scheme to go back to the drawing board or be scrapped.

"The butterflies and the trees and architects' plans - I love all that and I think that people will, you know, generally like them very much," he said.

"There are some differences about some of the proposals currently on the drawing board and I don't want to get dragged into a discussion - because a lot of them are under review now. But I'm strongly attracted personally to things which give people a sense of ownership over public space, particularly cyclists."

Green London Assembly member Jenny Jones has criticised the Mayor for shelving the project.

"Boris seems incapable of making the tough decisions needed to improve London's environment," she said. "There were huge complaints from motorists ahead of the redesign of Trafalgar Square, but the previous Mayor faced them down. Trafalgar Square was transformed from a famous monument on a traffic island into a well used and loved public space. If Boris hasn't got the guts to make tough decisions, then all his talk of a beautiful London filled with trees, birds and clean air is meaningless."

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