Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to the Editor of The Times

Letter No.: 
October 16 [1957]

We understand that the Crown Estate Commissioners are on the verge of announcing a decision as to the future of the Nash Terraces in Regent's Park.
Charged as they are with the responsibility of prudent estate management, if may well be that a part of their decision will be to pull down all or some of the terraces and use the sites for more profitable development, perhaps new blocs of flats or offices.
We feel that the façades of the Nash Terraces, which were designed to be seen as a whole, will lose much of their attraction and merit if they are even partially mutilated.
Quite apart from any benefit enjoyed by those who live in them, they give pleasure to those who use Regent's Park in ever large numbers.  They are also an important contributory factor to the concept of famous and ancient buildings in Britain which, by their cumulative effect, persuade foreign visitors to come here.  Last year the tourist trade was our largest single dollar earner.
We therefore feel, as Lord Gorrell's committee recommended in 1947, that in the managing of the Regent's Park Estate the Crown Estate Commissioners should be absolved from the responsibility of having to make the maximum profit.
We would point out that post-war conversions of houses into modern flats have proved commerically profitable, notably in Eaton Square, Hyde Park Gardens, and the Paragon at Blackheath.  There are many other examples.
If similar conversions and modernization were not calculated to be so profitable in Regent's Park (although there are strong grounds for supposing that there would be a good return on the money spent), then we feel that, in order to preserve this national asset, the Government should be prepared to accept a lower return than the maximum commercially possible.  Consideration could also be given to the possibility of enabling people of all income groups to live in the Nash Terraces.
We write now, in advance of any decision being announced, as we feel that it may be helpful to the Crown Estate Commissioners (and to the Government, which holds the ultimate responsibility) in presenting their final deicision to know that there would be widespread public disapproval of any scheme which destroyed the unity of Nash's plan for Regent's Park by the removal of even some of the terraces.
Yours faithfully,
William Holford, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Mottistone, Arthur Bryant, Kenneth Clark, Richard Costain, Philip Hendy, Basil Burton, John Betjeman, Henry Moore, Basil Spence, Woodrow Wyatt.


General notes: 

Printed in The Times newspaper, Saturday 19 October, 1957, headed "Fate of Nash terraces: why unity should be preserved".

The Times (no.53976), Tuesday, October 19, 1957, p.7.