I have been drawn, without particularly intending to, into the controversy surrounding the development of Norton Folgate, an ancient liberty immediately north of the City, where a group of old houses on what was once Ermine Street have been gradually bought up by the City for ruthless commercial development. Rather than the City developing the properties themselves through their architecture and planning department, they are doing it in conjunction with British Land. What is unusual is that the houses are nearly adjacent to a street of old industrial warehouses, relics of the industrial and trading roots at the fringes of the City. One street away is Elder Street, one of the most important historic streets in Spitalfields. An alternative plan for the development of the neighbourhood has been drawn up by Burrell Foley Fischer which respects its original mixed character. The plans drawn up by British Land were rejected by Tower Hamlets, but have now been passed by Boris Johnson over the heads of local planning. It’s a battleground between two forms of development, one monolithic and corporate and the other low rise and conservationist. The paradox is that the latter is almost certainly better at preserving the long-term prosperity and energy of the City as an engine of economic growth.