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SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT TO BE BUILT AT HOLYROOD

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Holyrood will be the home to Scotland's parliament the secretary of ...
Holyrood will be the home to Scotland's parliament the secretary of

state for Scotland, Donald Dewar announced today.

The four acre Holyrood site is on the Royal Mile adjacent to the Palace of Holyrood House and Holyrood Park. The site, currently occupied by Scottish & Newcastle Plc, will be largely cleared to make room for a new building.

The next stage will be a competition to identify an architect for the building, and the public will have the chance to see a range of options for the site before the final design is chosen. Work on the site is expected to begin by the middle of 1999.

Mr Dewar said:

'I am delighted to be able to announce today that after a careful and thorough examination of options, Scotland's Parliament will occupy this prestigious setting in the historical heart of Edinburgh close to the Palace of Holyrood. Holyrood has the most to offer, combining the opportunity to construct a new specially designed building right for Scotland's needs in the next century with a unique historic setting.

'The final decision was not reached lightly. The most important factor is the opportunity to construct a purpose-built parliament which can make a forward looking statement about Scotland's future as a successful modern democracy within the UK. Secondly a city centre location could provide important advantages in terms of accessibility. And thirdly, it is important that the site should provide the right links with our proud history.

'This new building, combining history with modernity - and with a magnificent view of Salisbury Crags - will provide a fitting place for Scotland's parliamentarians to debate, legislate and receive their constituents and for the people of Scotland to come and see their

representatives at work. I believe it will be an enduring symbol of the new politics to which this Government is committed and has delivered over the last 8 months.

'All the other sites had their strengths. The Regent Road site is also centrally located and in a prominent position. But the conversion of an existing building, no matter how well done, must inevitably be a compromise. There would be no visible symbol of the new parliament, and it would lack the operational efficiency of a new building. I was increasingly convinced that we should make a distinction between the Scottish legislature and the executive arm of government in Scotland:

presently the Scottish Office, which will become the Scottish Executive under the Parliament.

'Traffic management around the Holyrood site has always been recognised as an important factor. Working in partnership with the City of Edinburgh Council, we will create a pedestrian friendly environment around the Parliament building providing easy access for

pedestrians to Holyrood Palace and the Park as well as the Canongate and into the centre of the city. There are already firm plans to

pedestrianise Canongate along the entire length of the parliament site.

The ultimate object will be to produce an environment which is free of through-traffic.

'Leith and Haymarket provided scope for a new building, of course, but Leith's distance from the city centre and the traffic congestion around Haymarket together with the lack of a strong historical context at either site led me to reject them. I was greatly impressed by the work done on all the sites both by those advocating them and by the architectural firms brought in to produce design feasibility studies. There is no doubt that the parliament could have been built on any of the sites but my clear view is that Holyrood is the best option.

'The next stage is to produce a fitting building for the Holyrood site. We are determined to make use of the best architectural expertise and also to involve the general public in working up the final design for the parliament. We will therefore be running a competition to find the best architectural talent from Europe and indeed further afield. Scottish architects will of course be able to take part in that competition. But the winner will be chosen on merit. The public will then be invited to see a range of options for the site before the final design is chosen. We envisage work beginning on site by the middle of next year.

'Holyrood is the most fitting site in historical terms. The Royal Mile has been a royal route since 1128, when David I founded the Abbey of Holyrood. Holyrood Abbey has been a royal residence at least from the reign of Robert the Bruce, who held a parliament there in 1326. The Scottish Parliament met, in Parliament House, in the Royal Mile (now part of the High Courts) from 1640 to 1707.

'I am convinced that when future generations look back to the decision that we have made today they will applaud the choice to create a new

symbol for Scottish democracy in the heart of Scotland's capital.'

NOTES

1. The site is on the Royal Mile and is bounded by Horse Wynd, Holyrood Road and Reid's Close. The site is approximately four acres in size and, as shown by the independent design feasibility study, it is big enough to accommodate a Parliament building and the necessary ancillary accommodation with scope for expansion to meet future needs. The target date for Scottish & Newcastle Plc to vacate the site entirely is April 1999 though they will begin a phased withdrawal from Summer 1998. This will allow the building to be completed in the second half of 2001.

2. Government Departments (and other bodies entitled to 'Crown exemption') do not have to seek planning permission in the way normally required for other types of development. They are, however, required to submit a Notice of Proposed Development (NOPD) to the

planning authority. This procedure allows development proposals to be considered by the planning authority with the arrangements for publicity and opportunities to make representations applying as in any

normal planning application.

3. The design feasibility studies demonstrated that all of the sites were capable of accommodating the Scottish Parliament building. The

Holyrood, Leith and Haymarket sites could take a new Parliament building to meet the required specifications. St Andrew's House on

Regent Road was capable of being converted to accommodate a Debating Chamber and ancillary accommodation. The independent cost consultants advised that a new Parliament building would cost around£50m and that converting St Andrew's House would cost around£65m. VAT and fees would need to be added to these figures to produce final costs as would site acquisition at the new build sites.

The final cost of the Parliament at Holyrood will depend on the final design, the fees negotiated with the successful architect and the

outcome of the competition between developers actually to construct the building.

4. Material from the design feasibility studies and the transport and environmental study will be placed in the Library of the House of

Commons.

5. The new Scottish Parliament will be the subject of an architectural design competition. With the choice of site decided the way is now clear for detailed consideration to be given to the precise form that the competition might take.

6. There are basically two types of architectural design competition. There are those competitions devised to select a design and those that are aimed at selecting a designer. The objective will be to select the type of competition that is most appropriate to these circumstances, and that gives the greatest certainty of delivering a building of high quality and civic importance, but at the same time is built to our cost budget and completed on time. These criteria point to a designer competition with opportunities for the public to see options as they are developed.

7. The precise form of competition has not yet been decided but all designers possessing the necessary skills and expertise will have the oportunity to be considered. Before a decision is made views will be sought from the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland, RIAS and

RIBA.

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