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AJ writers 'out of touch with normal people' The appalling commentary by Clare Melhuish titled 'A group housing scheme's Grand Design on self-building' (AJ 30.08.01), proves that your writers are out of touch with normal people.

Her comments that Kevin McCloud produced 'flaccid and banal television' completely missed the point of the programme, which showed people on low incomes or unemployed, working themselves to exhaustion in order to provide a better home and future for their families; a means to escape the violence and drug problems of the tenement blocks and council estates. That all the self-builders were in employment at the end of the project was a fantastic achievement.

Melhuish's righteous pontification was itself banal. Grand Designs will probably do more for architecture than a handful of the millennium projects we have been forced to endure (and fund) because it shows what can be done. These programmes stimulate interest and help people define their own ideal homes. Which is, of course, good for architects and the industry as a whole.

I am sure many people in small practices will feel you have insulted their customers. This further underlines other criticisms made in the letters section of the same issue of 'cronyism' and 'elitism' being responsible for falling RIBA membership levels.

Phillip J Boaden Beverley, East Yorkshire

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