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Tradition is dead. Long live democracy

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I am surprised that so many people in our profession are campaigning for the retention of PPG 7.

George Ferguson says that it 'is not just about rich people building but it is also about continuing an architectural tradition'. He is right, it is not just about rich people, but it is also about a fair democracy. Two of the great, fair and efficient parts of our post-war planning legislation have been the creation of Green Belts and the restriction of development in the countryside. I cannot see any justification for the wealthy to break through these sensible barriers.

To talk about 'continuing an architectural tradition' begs a lot of questions. The beginning of the country house tradition started with an assumption by many of the landowners that their property would be accessible to the general public. The richest of them all, the Duke of Devonshire, opened his house and gardens at Chatsworth to the public right from the beginning. How many owners of the houses that have slipped through the planning net due to this odious clause are going to let the public admire their gems of architectural tradition?

This 'tradition' has been effectively dead for 50 years. It would be better if the rich, and their architects, devoted their efforts to the numerous genuine country houses awaiting rescue.

While the intention of the clause may be to only allow houses 'of outstanding architectural merit', how many planning committees will be skilled enough to judge? And, in the future, how will they be able to resist all the other 'legitimate' applications for houses in the countryside?

Robert Huddleston, Bristol

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