As if the worst floods in 400 years were not enough, York now faces another crisis, the effects of which would be felt long after this year's silt has been cleared away.
A gross act of corporate and civic vandalism now threatens one of the city's most ancient sites: for within the old precinct of York Castle (a site of international importance), alongside three Grade I-listed buildings and a scheduled monument, on the banks of the city's second river and reaching back into the ancient street pattern of the city, planning permission is being sought for a '70s-style comprehensive redevelopment to create a shopping centre and a multi-storey car park.
Neither the planning department (which is actively promoting the scheme) nor the developer has given any consideration to the prospect of responding to this momentous opportunity with a rich mix of uses reflective of the internal texture of traditional settlements, whereby an attractive, liveable, memorable and sustainable new quarter might be delivered, one which would generate more subtle forms of inward investment and prosperity. All must be subsumed beneath a sterile, outdated and monocultural consumerist monolith!
It is beyond belief that we are still fighting these battles on the threshold of the new millennium, and were this a metropolitan issue it would undoubtedly occupy the national consciousness. I commend this dilemma to any readers who know York, and all who are interested in how our historic towns and cities might retain their distinctiveness and integrity, yet still embrace the future with confidence.
John Regan, Leeds