An honest planning process benefits the whole community

IT is a pity that the Ham & High report (January 22), about the strengthening of current conservation rules, presented a negative stereotype of honest John Citizen banned from exercising his right to do what he liked. William Morris, who founded the fir

IT is a pity that the Ham & High report (January 22), about the strengthening of current conservation rules, presented a negative stereotype of honest John Citizen banned from exercising his 'right' to do what he liked.

William Morris, who founded the first conservation movement in the late 19th century, defined architecture as "a harmonious co-operative work of art, inclusive of all the serious arts, all those which are not engaged in the production of mere toys, or of ephemeral prettiness". This carefully weighted definition holds fast today.

Legislative achievement has moved forward in the 20th century with the enlightened concept of conservation areas to collectively protect and enhance significant parts of our towns and villages. Camden rejoices in 33 such designated areas, the pride and joy of local people who regard these places as valued local heritage to be handed down to future inhabitants.

The system is operated by local government - a long way from perfect - but unless you object to democracy, it is the best we have got so far. In the end - if honestly and competently operated - the planning process works to the benefit of the whole community. Sometimes John Citizen, not to mention John Developer and John Estate Agent, need to be saved from themselves.


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You can see what we possess if you return to beautiful Belsize Park and Hampstead, for example, after travelling in places where 'anything goes'. Except of course, 'anything' does not 'go' but once there continues to blot the landscape for years to come.

More information about serious architectural conservation, clarifying points raised by the new improved rules, will be offered by Camden Council this spring at a public meeting in this area - maybe in Hampstead Town Hall, itself a recent triumph of heritage listing, conservation area concern and prize-winning community activity for young people.

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Watch this space for details.

GENE ADAMS

Chair, Belsize CAAC, NW3

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