Letter: Building the future

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Sally Chatterton's "Who's the builder most worthy of house room?" (Business Review, 8 September), with the men mainly responsible for house- building, was very valuable although deeply depressing; but she didn't ask: "Why don't you employ good architects?"

When the New Towns were built in the 1950s, distinguished architects like Eric Lyons and Frederick Gibberd were well known to be involved in the design of the houses. Nowadays nobody knows who is behind the sprawling housing estates.

The Portsmouth Society is concerned mainly with trying to encourage good design in new building and to discourage dross. We are continually dismayed by the standard of design of new buildings of all types but especially housing and especially the products of Housing Associations.

It was sad to find that these tycoons of the building industry had only commercial ambitions. None had any creative ambition, for instance to emulate the great developers of the past and to leave behind as their monument an Edinburgh New Town or, like Thomas Cubitt, a new Belgravia.

On a recent train journey in Belgium, Holland and Germany I was always seeing new housing developments in a cheerful, attractive style essentially of our own time. Why won't they build them in England?