You hope that the Forest Gate Heritage Economic Regeneration Scheme (HERS, or 'Gateway ofopportunity') would not be repeated (AJ 15.5.03).
I am sorry the AJ was taken in by a brilliant telephoto lens picture: the glancing sun glamorising what were extremely decrepit signs and rundown shops. I should like to respond as the consultant who, along with the council's conservation officer and architect, was responsible for the scheme.
In fact the shopkeepers designed their own shopfronts within the frame of the traditional architectural features. If all shopfronts were replaced in this way, our town centres would undoubtedly be boring and precious places.
However, I believe the consistent shop fascias in this single terrace were entirely appropriate in the context of the architecture and age of the buildings. The next phases will have greater variety and colour and, if the shopkeepers want it, very modern materials and designs.
English Heritage's and Newham Council's approach of tackling a whole terrace does seem a worthwhile attempt at regenerating a town centre. It seems a little premature and dogmatic of the AJ to condemn the principle to the rubbish bin.
Surely there must be an opportunity for a variety of approaches in our attempts to regenerate declining areas?
Jake Stafford, Frederick Stafford Planning, London EC1