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Join the fight for country houses

This week The Architects' Journal begins its campaign to save the country house clause in Planning Policy Guidance Note 7 and preserve the country house tradition. To mark the launch, an impressive list of architecture's great and good signed an open letter to planning minister Lord Rooker demanding he scrap plans to remove paragraph 3.21

Lord Rooker

Minister for Housing, Planning and Regeneration

House of Commons

Dear Sir, We the undersigned are writing to urge you to retain Paragraph 3.21 of your planning policy guidance note 7 (PPG 7), which allows for isolated houses to be built in the countryside where the architecture is of truly outstanding quality. As one of the very few items of planning law that actively demands outstanding architecture (without favouring one style or architectural movement over another), it should be protected by a government that has frequently expressed its commitment to the highest quality design.

The 400-year-old country house tradition is one of Britain's most significant contributions to international architectural culture, and it would be a matter of profound regret if we were to halt the evolution of this important building type. This clause in PPG 7 has been the catalyst for the recent surge of interest in the country house, with innovative proposals being put forward by our leading talents.

The private house has traditionally been a testing ground for innovation in architecture, producing ideas that have been filtered through to mass housing. If the government is to realise its ambition for a step change in the quality of volume housebuilding, it needs to produce the conditions for creativity to flourish and for our brightest talents to develop exemplars of good design. The clause has already spawned a new renaissance in architectural patronage with the vision and resources to invest in truly exceptional work.

By retaining this clause in PPG 7, we can hope to replace some of the 1,500 country houses that have been destroyed during the past 100 years and continue the tradition into the 21st century for the benefit of future generations. This can only be to the good of the British countryside and the evolution of architecture as a whole.

Robert Adam Simon Allford Will Alsop Sir Sidney Chapman, architect and Conservative MP Laurie Chetwood Sir Terry Farrell George Ferguson, president-elect, RIBA Paul Finch, deputy chairman, CABE Vincent Goodstadt, president, RTPI Piers Gough John Gummer, ex-Secretary of State for the Environment Maxwell Hutchinson, ex-president, RIBA, broadcaster Paul Hyett, president, RIBA Edward Jones Jan Kaplicky Amanda Levete Matthew Line, director, Prince's Foundation David Lock, president, TCPA Owen Luder, ex-chair, ARB, ex-president, RIBA Fred Manson, ex-director regeneration, Southwark Rowan Moore, critic and director of the Architecture Foundation Farshid Moussavi Alfred Munkenbeck Richard Murphy Peter Murray, director, Wordsearch Kenneth Powell, architectural critic Sunand Prasad, commissioner, CABE Cedric Price Ian Ritchie Jon Rouse, chief executive, CABE Christine Russell, Labour MP, ODPM select committee member Alan Stanton Deyan Sudjic, architectural critic John Winter

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