The answer is usually because developers, planners and architects only saw a building, not a community, a cityscape or a history, and because politicians, for one reason and another, allowed such myopia to run free.
Sadly, this scenario will be writ large if a proposed re-development of a historic part of central London gets the go-head.
The newly privatised Royal Mail wants to squeeze more than 700 flats, plus shops and offices, into a small parcel of land presently occupied by the Mount Pleasant sorting office and adjoining workers car park in Clerkenwell.
Local residents say the ill-thought out plan will result in tall blocks of so called luxury apartments towering over Georgian terraces, more cars clogging up already busy roads, and narrow streets turned into windy tunnels by too high buildings.
But as London property prices rocket to an all time high it seems their nightmare is a developer’s wet dream.
Despite the fact that the scheme is to take place in the heart of three conservation areas, the commercial imperative of making as much money as possible out of one of the few remaining brownfield sites in central London appears to have drowned out all objections.
Local residents, however, have not given up. They have produced a campaign video that highlights all that is wrong with the Royal Mail’s plan from an architectural and planning perspective. As demolition jobs go, this one is pretty devastating.
The Mount Pleasant Forum, the group behind A Community’s Plea, hope that it will persuade local councillors to say ‘no’ to the current proposal, and generate support from those campaigning for a more community-oriented approach to urban planning and architecture.
Even if you are unfamiliar with the Mount Pleasant area please take a look at the video, which has also been posted on Youtube. A similar development may soon be coming to a street near you!