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Maintenance the keyto improving cities

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The success or failure of the schemes illustrated and discussed in the landscape issue (aj 4.6.98) will depend to a considerable extent on day- to-day and longer-term maintenance, management of the spaces and the uses encouraged or generated.

The first two can be predicted and allowed for but rarely are; yet those sitting enjoying a drink or snack may be the same persons who abuse the space. Unfortunately these factors hardly get a mention in the issue, and the hope is always that design will transform people's behaviour.

Invariably new landscape projects soak up more funds in maintenance than an unimproved space, so the risk of failure is increased. Schemes with high aspirations but rapid decline do nothing to promote the desperate need to make lasting improvements to our cities.

SIMON CARNE

London SW13

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