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KATHERINE SHONFIELD

Special boots for facilitating downward mobility must surely become standard issue for this government. So intent are they on climbing down, that soon they will have forgotten how they got up to the lofty heights of principle from which they are now so busy descending.

The latest promise in the flip-top bin is the statutory right to roam, which will now become a voluntary code-to-roam - ie, as you were. The self-styled 'Countryside Alliance' links the right to roam with pernicious attempts to build on green fields: part of a them-and-us, country-versus-town conspiracy. This is a diversion. The news item most intimately connected with the right to roam is the furore over the Lord Chancellor's refurbishment of his apartments with choice goodies from the national collections. The real point at issue is access to public space, be it in the open air or be it built.

What we need in Britain is the equivalent of the Noilly Plan of Rome. This map describes the interiors of public buildings as if they were exterior spaces like streets and squares: at a glance, viewers can see where they have a right to roam. In such a map, extending from the country to the city, the Lord Chancellor's interior would be described with the same precision as a public right of way.

As things stand, we have the most inaccessible public interiors in Europe. The spatial wealth of Britain - of its architecture and of its landscapes - is effectively privatised. And, like everything else, it looks as though it's going to stay that way.

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