I've been reading this blog, which is following the proposals for the redevelopment of part of Deptford. Deptford is a run down area of south east London which is certainly in need of regeneration.
However, the area which it is proposed to redevelop is historically significant. It is the site of the first Royal Dockyard which dates from the time of Henry VIII. It is also the site of Sayes Court, home of the diarist John Evelyn, and of his garden.
Those who object to the proposals argue that they do not give proper consideration to the historical importance of the area; that they risk damaging or destroying archaeological evidence; that they do not allow for community access to and appreciation of some of the historically important aspects of the site.
Yet homes are needed, as is investment that will bring jobs to the area. How should these needs be balanced with the desire to preserve the past?
The question of past versus present can be asked elsewhere. How much should local authorities spend on archive services when services for children and the elderly may be facing cuts?
Should the owners of historic buildings be restricted in what they can do with their properties? Yes, it is desirable that that old buildings should be preserved whenever possible. Timber and brick are almost always more attractive than concrete.
Most houses have been altered over the years. Fireplaces and chimney stacks have replaced open hearths. Tiled roofs have replaced thatch. Extensions have been added, rooms knocked through or partitioned off or converted to different uses. New windows and doors have been fitted. Mains drainage, water, gas and electricity have been added.
Why should it be decided that at some arbitrary date in the twenty first century a building should stop evolving to meet the needs and wants of the people who live there?