LONDON'S GREEN BELT
[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] SIR,—In your issue of April 5th, you comment upon a " check " which the- " Green Belt " policy of the. London County Council has encountered in Buckinghamshire. According to your note, the London County Council is offering £70,0.00 towards acquiring a thousand acres of land in the Chilterns, but the local authority demurs to sharing a like sum with the Bucks County. Council.
There seems to be some misunderstanding here. The London County Council has certainly made no offer of contri- bution towards this purchase, no application has been received from the Bucks County Council, and as far as can be ascertained the matter has never been brought before the London County Council in any way.
You ask " Why should it (the local authority) shoulder a burden in order to provide playgrounds for Londoners ? . . . the project is really more than 50 per cent. a concern of -London." Is there not some confusion here also ? Without knowing the exact site, it is difficult to say whether this would be a playground for Londoners. Would it not be fair to assume that the local population will have by far the greater proportion of user ? The Middlesex County Council has actually found that it pays them to pay 75 per cent. towards an open space rather than allow it to be built upon, because the charges for services on property rated at £26 a year entail a yearly loss of £3 a house.
Assuming that comparable conditions exist in Buckingham- shire, it is hardly fair to expect the contribution of London to be double that of Bucks, especially when it is remembered that London asks no ownership and no management : its contribution is a clear-cut gift.
Much might be said regarding your last sentence. Logically there is a case for one authority for the area, but it is not practical politics today. There was considerable opposition to the extension of London's borders when it was last pro- posed, although it would doubtless 'have. been financially beneficial to those counties in which the London County Council has built cottage estates. A regional authority which could adjust these anomalies is not, therefore, a possi- bility at the moment, and adjustments have to be made ad hoc ; and the simpler they are the better.
The Greater London Regional Planning Committee, despite its name, is not a town planning authority as are other regional committees. It can only act when' powers are delegated by any of the 170 or so local town planning bodies that constitute the area : • it cannot alter the zoning of a single inch of land or make a yard of new road.
So that' not only are we " trying to solve regional' problems without having regional authorities," but the authority set • up to deal with town planning has no town planning powers. In the circumstances, therefore, it would appear that London's "green belt " policy is a generous one. Most of the neigh- bouring bodies are already formulating programmes to submit to London for consideration, .and there certainly is no indication of anything like a " check " in the progress being made.—Faithfully yours, EwART G. CULPIN, Chairman, Greater London Regional Planning Committee.
London County Council, The County Hall, Westminster Bridge, S.E. 1.
[The facts on which our note was based were taken from a report in The Times of April 2nd of statements made at a meeting of the Wycombe Rural District Council on the previous day.—ED. The Spectator.]