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Gummer calls on architects to join country house battle

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Former Tory environment minister John Gummer has stepped up the campaign to stop the government abandoning the PPG 7 country house clause.

Speaking at the launch of the RIBA's new exhibition, 'The New English Country House', this week, Gummer demanded that John Prescott retain the planning guidance.

Gummer, who penned the original clause in the '80s and ensured it became law, called on the government to recognise it as 'not some terrible attack on the countryside'.

PPG 7 allows local councils to grant planning permission to new country houses if they reach an exceptional architectural standard.

And Gummer, who signed the AJ's campaign letter earlier this year, called on architects to join the 'battle' to protect this part of the clause.

'We are talking about 22 houses being built when we have lost 1,500, ' he said. 'This is not some terrible attack on the countryside, nor does PPG 7 go against government policy on greenfield sites.

'Country houses have always been an exception, and the countryside is better for them having been built.'

'There is a wider battle to be fought, to ensure this legislation lasts until we have replaced the houses we have lost, ' he added.

New RIBA president George Ferguson welcomed Gummer's comments. 'There is a real danger that the one piece of government policy rewarding good architecture will disappear because of the politics of envy, ' he said.

'The New English Country House' is taking place at the RIBA's Portland Place headquarters from 1-25 September.

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