Peter Wynne Rees: Restoration is pointless without development

From a Royal Society of Arts talk given by the planning officer for the City of London

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There's a slightly sinister middle-class undercurrent towards the conservation of buildings in some areas. Look at Spitalfields, for instance, where a number of architectural journalists bought some houses, derelict houses, at very low prices, did them up and then didn't want any more change in the area. They wanted to freeze it just at that point.

There's a slightly sinister middle-class undercurrent towards the conservation of buildings in some areas. Look at Spitalfields, for instance, where a number of architectural journalists bought some houses, derelict houses, at very low prices, did them up and then didn't want any more change in the area. They wanted to freeze it just at that point.

Now they didn't give a damn that there were thousands of people around there without jobs in deprived conditions, who would have liked some redevelopment and extra jobs brought into the area.

At the moment in the Smithfield area, there's an attempt to grow Clerkenwell into the city, you know it's a sort of cancer, a conservation cancer.

What I'm saying is that we need both restoration and development side by side, because the City of London, like Haye-on-Wye, is a specialist centre. It's not old books: it's our financial services. The economic regenerative effect of the city being healthy is enormous, not to the country, to Europe as a whole. We need to be able to increase the density to be able to do that; we are short of land.

Commuters need to live closer to the city; you cannot simply transport the land all over the country, and while I agree that isolated tall buildings like the one at London Bridge tower are awful - they are dragon's teeth - we do need to cluster together some more buildings in the city and immediately adjacent to it to create the density we need to maintain our role, and if you don't believe that, then you obviously don't understand economics.

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