§ 28. Mr. Tony Banks
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has to improve the built environment in London. 
§ Mr. Gummer
My over-arching objective is to raise the standard of urban design in London, as elsewhere in the country. I have a number of initiatives in hand to achieve this.
I shall shortly be publishing "Strategic Guidance for London Planning Authorities", which has a chapter devoted to policies to protect and improve the quality of London's environment to ensure that the capital maintains its attractiveness and competitiveness.
Similarly, "Strategic Guidance for the Thames" will increase awareness of the importance of raising design standards in the sensitive river corridor and will contain a set of design principles which local planning authorities will be required to take account of when considering development proposals.
Earlier this year, the Government office for London published a research document on London's urban environment, "Planning for Quality", which identifies the principal components of urban quality and illustrates how they can be enhanced as planning policies are developed.
This is all part of the wider quality in town and country initiative that I launched last year, which seeks to encourage debate and action about what government and others can do to achieve quality in the built environment. Out of this grew last summer's urban design campaign to promote greater consideration of design issues at local level. Out of 21 schemes being supported by my Department nationwide, two are in London-at Borough market and Wimbledon town centre. They will feature in a major exhibition on urban design later this year and the results will help to inform the preparation of good practice on design.
My Department is also reviewing existing planning policy guidance on design in the context of a general review of planning policy guidance note No. 1.