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or have we simply got our knickers in a twist?

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The most recent outburst in the AJ, 'Join the fight for country houses' (22.5.03), makes me wonder if democracy has flown out of the window. Together with the previous issue's lambasting of English Heritage for its backing of work in Forest Gate in Newham, I have the distinct impression that the journal to which I subscribe has got its knickers in a twist.

Let us examine the facts. We are promised a consultation paper - PPS 7 - in the summer.

Then is the time to shout. The English country house, glorious though it might be - part of our heritage - is the product of privilege. Contemporary additions to the stock would be likewise.

If there is a demand from the super rich for further country houses, let us be certain that what exists, in good repair or ruinous, merits adding to the stock.

Another planning policy guidance, PPG 3, is concerned with not building on greenfield sites. It also stresses the need for good design.

Quotations from the alleged supporters of your campaign are truisms, little else. I feel sad that in true journalese fashion they are so misused.

Your letter to Lord Rooker contains emotive half-truths.

For instance, to imply that the isolated country house in the midst of large parkland is per se 'a testing ground for innovation' is certainly no longer the case.

Examples of 'humble' houses showing innovation frequently appear in your pages. As for the past, your assertion is dubious, substantiated by a few such as Cragside.

In summary, as so often, Hellman in his inimitable way expresses the real substance of the situation. Unfortunately, your list of signatories smacks of 'rent a crowd' and your campaign has the objection of prematurity.

John Bancroft, Haywards Heath

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