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Regent's Park Terraces

Volume 272: debated on Tuesday 1 February 1966

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2.40 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they do not consider that any further demolition of the Regent's Park Terraces, even to a minor extent, should now be prevented; and whether the Crown Estate Commission could not be persuaded to live up to its responsibilities by repairing Chester Gate and Cambridge Terrace.]

My Lords, the Crown Estate Commissioners have comprehensive plans for the preservation of the Regent's Park Terraces. The Gorell Committee in 1947 advised that a minimum of seven terraces should at all costs be restored and preserved. The Commissioners are going further than this and are preserving almost all the terraces, covering a further eight blocks of buildings.

Four of the ten houses in Cambridge Terrace were destroyed by fire, and it was never a terrace of the consequence of the others. Accordingly, the Gorell Committee thought that it should be demolished. The present plan is that, along with the few neighbouring houses in Chester Gate and in Albany Street, it should provide a site for a Hall of Residence for students of London University. The Crown Estate Commissioners have been in close consultation with the Royal Fine Art Commission and have made it clear to the University that they will require any new building on this site to be worthy of its setting, and to be in harmony with the scale and character of the Nash terraces, and in particular with the southern end of the restored Chester Terrace.

From what I have said, it will be seen that the Commissioners are living up fully to their responsibilities and Her Majesty's Government do not think it necessary to ask them to reconsider any of their proposals.

My Lords, can the noble Lord say why there should be any question whatever of pulling down any of the Nash terraces at this date?

My Lords, I am not quite certain whether my noble friend agrees with the Gorell Report which, I think, did not refer at all to these two parts of the terraces. Chester Gate was not even mentioned. The other, as I am sure my noble friend will agree (because I am quite certain he has seen it), is not really in accord with the standards of nobility of the other Nash terraces.

My Lords, will the noble Lord consider whether the time has not come when the responsibility for these terraces should be taken out of the hands of the Crown Estate Commissioners altogether and vested in a board of trustees, with a definite duty to preserve the terraces which the public want?

My Lords, that is a completely different question, but I should have thought—and I am sure that the noble Lord, if he reads the Crown Estate Commission's Reports, will feel—that they are very enthusiastic in what they are doing and, I suggest, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, are doing very well indeed.

My Lords, nevertheless, would my noble friend not agree that this is a repetition of the old story that happens over and over again? We get two or three reports and three, four or five bodies consult each other; the eye is not quick enough to follow what is happening and, in the end, down comes a fine old building.

My Lords, I am not certain how old the Chester Gate terrace is. I rather think that it is late Victorian, so it is not so old. I personally do not think it is fine at all.

My Lords, may I correct my noble friend? The two terraces referred to in my Question are both Nash terraces, in the sense that they came from his workshop at the time he built the others.