Letter: Residents who have looked after London

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The Independent Online
Sir: As two of your readers point out (Letters, 4 March) the Landed Estates do not highlight the fact that schemes of management can, and do, achieve uniformity and conservation without the necessity of a single freeholder.

In fact, since at least 1974, the Town & Country Planning Act of that year has enabled local authorities to initiate and maintain control of colours and elevational details. An excellent example of this is to be seen in Royal Crescent in Kensington which was transformed from a riot of colour and dilapidation to a (by and large) state of well maintained uniformity, despite dozens of different owners.

An often overlooked, but considerable, disadvantage of the Landed Estates is that the very concentration of ownership has enabled development to take place that simply could not have happened had there been individual owners. For example, virtually all the intrusive schemes in the Holland Park area are due to this simple fact. Many of the streets in that area have survived because they were sold off a generation ago, albeit without management schemes.

That so much of old London has survived is certainly not due to the Estates. Their professional managers, quite rightly from their point of view, always took the most profitable course and as they know, but rarely admit, we only see a fraction of the devastation (comprehensive development) that was planned and of which, at the time, many of us would have approved. The saviour was a series of credit squeezes and property recessions enabling a growing awareness to develop among the planners.

Yours sincerely,

R. M. LANGDON

Moreton-in-Marsh,

Gloucestershire

5 March

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