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AJ launches bid to save 'country house' clause

The government's plans to scrap the country house clause in PPG 7 have been greeted with condemnation from the profession.

Hostility to the move across the board has inspired the AJ to lead a fight to save the clause. Leading figures in the profession - from CABE chief executive Jon Rouse to the Prince of Wales' chief advisor on architecture, Matthew Line - have put their names to a letter urging the government to rethink.

MP John Gummer, who drafted the original clause, has also joined the campaign, along with critics including Deyan Sudjic and Rowan Moore, regeneration specialist Fred Manson, Conservative MP Sir Sydney Chapman, Labour MP Christine Russell and architects as diverse as Sir Terry Farrell, Will Alsop, Farshid Moussavi, Edward Jones, Jan Kaplicky and Robert Adam. The number of signatories stood at more than 30 as the AJ went to press, with more expected.

Planning minister Lord Rooker is set to remove paragraph 3.21 - which allows an isolated house in the countryside where the architecture is of 'outstanding' design quality - when the ODPM reviews it rural planning guidance. The move, revealed by the AJ two weeks ago, both threatens the 400-year country-house tradition and removes one of the few items of planning law that actively demands outstanding quality design. A consultation draft of the new guidance, to be called PPS 7, will be published in the summer.

In her editorial in this issue (page 22), AJ editor Isabel Allen asks readers to join the campaign and add their names to the letter to Lord Rooker. 'If we can demonstrate strength of opinion within the profession we have a real chance of protecting this valuable clause before it is too late, ' she writes.

'Our strong support for this clause is based on the fact that it insists on the best without being prescriptive about style.

'When applied with integrity it does not allow for mindless pastiche - but then nor does it tolerate substandard Modernism the criteria for approval is quality, and - quality alone.'

The letter to Lord Rooker, published in full on page 16, sets out the reasons for retaining the clause.

Please sign up by sending an email, to ed. dorrell@construct. emap. com, or by writing to 'Save the Clause', The Architects' Journal, 151 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4GB.

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