Letter: Luxury city - for some

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The Independent Online
Luxury city

- for some

Sir: Your photograph of Battersea ("Arise Lord Rogers", 13 June) says it all - a narrow band of luxury dwellings shutting off the Thames from the residents of the wide swath of old council high-rise estates behind, where a recent survey in my parish revealed that 61 per cent earned less than pounds 150 a week.

When I came to this parish 25 years ago the riverside was occupied by large factories that provided employment; the river was bustling with life, barges and cranes; local youths were free to sit on the river bank and fish. Now the river is dead, with not even a riverbus, while Battersea roads choke with traffic; the occupants of the luxury flats escape to second homes in the country at weekends; rising house prices drive those who service London's hospitals, shops and schools further and further out to Thornton Heath and beyond; antiquated planning laws give us no voice and no chance of appeal.

Is this riding a wave of the future? May God forgive us all. Who trains these architects, planners and law-makers and gives them such blinkered vision that they can think only of each new site in isolation and ignore all immediate surroundings? Week after week local residents meet in my vicarage and express what they need - places of employment, meeting, recreation and refreshment - and no one in power will listen.

Yes, no doubt we do need "densely populated, compact cities" where people have all "life, work and leisure within walking distance", but this will not be achieved by building super-luxury housing on all the prime sites, for those who will continue to demand their weekend retreat in the ever more overburdened countryside. Who are you kidding, Lord Rogers?


London SW11