1 FEBRUARY 1963, Page 4

Keeping London Great

THE 500 architects who recently heard Sir Keith Joseph speak at the RIBA on the plan- ning implications of the London Government Bill decided that sardonic laughter was the most suitable comment on the Government's decision to give Londoners even more complicated plan- ning procedures. The Minister was clearly astonished to find parts of the Bill being shot down by a succession of speakers. But he has not been sheltered in the past few months from expert planning opinions. The RIBA had already made it clear to him that the future of London could not be properly mapped out by a new Council which had powers to produce a master plan but no powers to implement it, and by half a dozen boroughs which were not even obliged to employ architects' departments. 'All this.' said Sir Keith of the fierce criticisms of the Bill from architects and planners who deplored the Govern- ment's failure to recognise that traffic planning and town planning should be done in the same depart- ment, 'might have come out earlier if local authorities had given us the benefit of their ad- vice.' On the other hand it might not. So few local authorities include architects or planners among their officers that there is little local government advice worth having on such mat- ters. Large-scale planning is comparatively new to this, country and can only be carried out under architects' departments with the skill to control private developers and to modify and incorporate their •enthusiastic but essentially money-grabbing

plans in comprehensive town development schemes. And only the architect is qualified to handle what the Minister calls a 'major break- through'—factory-made housing. What quirk of obstinacy prevents the Government from intro- ducing a tiny piece of legislation which recog- nises that architects and planners are as im- portant as surveyors, treasurers and clerks?