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contributed to the cost of the main drainage be excluded by statute from participation in the benefits? Would it not be an evasion of the Council's first duty as successors to the Metropolitan Board of Works to provide efficient drainage? At least, it would be manifest injustice to continue to levy a sewer rate on the boycotted lands.
Is there not risk of obstruction to building on frontages at low levels already developed and capable of drainage? I have met with an instance where a builder's drainage plan for a vacant plot between other houses, admitting of a good fall into an existing sewer, was refused because the site was below Trinity high-water mark.
There are provisions for exceptions subject (1st) to certain unknown by-laws or regulations; (2nd) to obtaining the Council's license; (3rd) to permission by the Council's engineer and compliance with his conditions, with a final right of appeal to the tribunal of five.
Now, this treble "hurdle" might possibly be cleared, but builders and owners have become nervous and confused since laws and by-laws multiply and change so rapidly. The addition of further gambling risks would paralyse enterprise.
When the trustees of a Peabody fund avow that the Council's building conditions are already so prohibitory that sites for model dwellings are abandoned as beyond the scope of even their ample funds, and when the Council themselves. confess that these restrictions have been so exacting and vexatious as to prejudice the sale of their own surplus lands, and are driven to relax them, we are entitled to say that even the present regulations are a check on building operations.
If, however, to these structural checks are now to be added the proposed restrictions upon land sites, the result must not only be a prejudice to property, but a restraint upon
the employment of labour, and may result in a lifting of cottage rents to famine prices.
The low levels in the western districts of London have all been covered-and, surely, usefully covered-with works and workers, and so escape these latter-day restrictions. This ban upon low lands, therefore, mainly touches the eastern districts. After having made their river defences floodproof by special levies for marsh rates for generations, and after having, in addition, paid their full quota to the general sewers rates, this law would be a hard measure indeed.
It should also be remembered that Western London is scavenged at the cost of the Eastern portion, which submits its water and air to pollution by providing sewage outlets for the common good. It was, until lately, further insisted that these unfortunate districts should furnish sites for London outfall works rate free, and only after three years' keen fighting has the right to fair assessment been firmly established.
A crowning hardship upon the landowners is suggested by a prominent member of the London County Council, who informed me that this crusade against the low lands was not mainly due to the interest taken in the welfare of the poor, but was prompted by the congested state of the main sewer system, already so charged that relief sewers have been under discussion, and will, no doubt, soon be forced upon the Council. If this be true, and all pretence be put aside, would it not still be a wrong that the owners of large tracts of low lands should, after 30 years' contributions to the sewer rates, have their appeal for drainage met by a "full inside" as the common vehicle passes their territory, Western London again getting the advantage of first service to the exclusion of the eastern districts?
Giving the Council credit for seeking the interests of the poor and dismissing any idea of ulterior motive, are such
extensive limitations calculated for their benefit?
in recent years out of London centres, the poor have found healthier homes and better air in the low-lying suburban levels. Moreover, it is to their advantage to be near the factories, docks, and works, where their employment lies, and necessarily these border the river.
If by the edict of some earlier County Council London had been shorn of her low-level poor-in Rotherhithe, Deptford, Bermondsey, Plumstead, Shadwell, Stepney, Millwall, &c.,-we might to-day have had a pleasure Metropolis, some stupendous Bath or Buxton; but where would have been the capital of the British workers, the centre of the world's markets?
We gather from these clauses what the Council's precepts are; but what is their practice when judging their own convenience as employers and their workmen's welfare?
The Council have riverside deodorising works, both at North Woolwich and Crossness. The entire area (70 acres) is not only below Trinity high-water level, but the whole of one site is practically reclaimed from the Thames, and but for the river wall it would be a lagoon flooded every ordinary tide 5 or 6 feet deep, and at spring tides 2 feet more. Yet at each the Council have built marsh homes for their workmen, giving their works and workers an advantage which may fairly be claimed as good for all riverside interests, so that the labourers should be at liberty to live near their work if they please. With the Council the marsh dwellings are compulsory.
Again test the Council's action as owners of low-lying lands.
The Council's costly Blackwall Tunnel scheme would have tapped a district doomed by this Bill to sterility, the whole area being several feet below Trinity high water. The Council have, in buying the land for approaches
wisely added sufficient building depth on either side to secure to themselves not only the first fruits, but all the "betterment." Upon these frontages an extensive scheme of workers' dwellings is contemplated, some 50 such dwellings close by being already nearly completed, built at the Council's cost under their Works Department.
The Council grant themselves the necessary "license" to build on their own low-lying lands, and their engineers' "conditions" can be amply satisfied with the ratepayers to draw upon.
Whether for the relief of the Tunnel contractors, who secure a free shoot for their soil, or to better the sites for dwellings, the new Tunnel road has been raised some feet above the abutting lands. The Council have constructed a central brick conduit for the drainage of their own frontages, but at such a high level-barely scratching the old surface -as to exclude all others from benefit.
All "betterment" is not only thus monopolised, but worsement" is inflicted on the abutting lands, not only by being severed by the raised road and sewer, but all access to the new road is threatened by the future unbroken ranks of the Council's dwellings. By this action freedom from competition is secured (if competition is possible with such a mighty owner), whilst the benefit to the Council's property of open lands at the rear is enforced without cost, these lands being thus condemned to a lasting rural rent, whilst bearing the burden of urban taxation, contributing, in fact, their share towards the Council's experiments in landlordism. THOMAS DINWIDDY, Fellow.
Note on the Case of “The Mayfair Property Company b. Johnston."*
The case of The Mayfair Property Company v. Johnston, decided on the 1st February, is a curious example of a new For a report of this case, see pp. 402-404, infra.
application of the provisions of an old statute. The facts of the case were simple. Two adjoining owners were tenants in common of a party wall dividing two houses and gardens in Hyde Park Gate. There had been some previous litigation as to whether the wall in question was a party wall or not, and it was decided that it was. Now, the Mayfair Property Company pulled down their house, and afterwards proceeded to pull down the garden wall, being the wall in dispute. They did so partly, and then rebuilt it, and erected a high building so that the outside of their wall came up to the centre of the garden wall. This they had no right to do, because one tenant in common cannot, without the consent of the other tenant in common, build upon a wall of that kind or interfere in any way with the tenancy in common. Certain rights are given by the Metropolitan Building Acts to adjoining owners where the wall dividing adjoining "buildings" comes within the definition in these Acts, but where these Acts do not apply then the adjoining owners are left to their common law rights. The decision to which attention is now directed will chiefly, therefore, affect adjoining owners in the provinces, unless there are any Local Acts affecting the question.
The Mayfair Property Company, having thus put themselves in the wrong, adopted a novel expedient to put themselves right again. They commenced a partition action—that is, an action claiming that the wall should be divided into two parts, each owner taking his part. The plaintiffs claimed that the wall in question should be divided longitudinally, and they made this claim under the old statutes of Henry VIII., and they succeeded. But they were made to pay the costs of the unsuccessful defendants, because their pulling down the wall was certainly a high-handed proceeding.
The application of the Partition Acts to the everyday