Heritage is too important to be lost beneath more housing

From: Jennifer Hunter, Queens Road, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

IT is, indeed, a sad indictment of these troubled times that members of the Fulford Battlefield Society feel compelled to intensify their campaign to preserve what they believe to be the site of a battle of 1066 (Yorkshire Post, February 16).

This is yet another example of campaigners fighting to preserve precious land which should remain unspoilt and part of our national heritage. I hope sincerely that English Heritage makes a decision in favour of preserving this site, where evidence of other eras’ activities have already been uncovered because similar historic sites will come under scrutiny in the fullness of time. After all, if such sites are built upon, eventually English Heritage, too, will be consigned to history and its employees made redundant.

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If the rate of house building accelerates, there could be very little of our national heritage left to save.

The main reason for our authorities drawing up plans to build on historic sites as well as green belt land and other land such as flood plain areas is primarily due to a rapid rise in our regional as well as national population levels.

Last October, plans were announced to build approximately 725 new houses in Knaresborough. Knaresborough is by no means a large historic market town and when I saw a copy of the plan showing the proposed changes, I felt extremely disturbed because it appears that some of the new housing will be built upon green belt land as well as areas prone to flooding.

The historic city of York and its surrounding areas are particularly vulnerable with regard to flooding. During the last week of November last year, I visited York on two occasions, travelling by train. The River Ouse was badly swollen earlier that week, but later in the week the water levels were even higher. It came as no surprise to find out that York Dungeon had been flooded and that the bus service from the city centre to Fulford was disrupted.

Hugh Bayley MP should be well aware of the effects of flooding in his constituency and on the outskirts of York, yet he supports addressing housing shortages by building large amounts of houses there.

Large areas of Marston Moor (another battle site from the Civil War – 1644) were covered with water in late November. I fully appreciate and support the concerns of campaigners, generally, who make an effort to resist further housebuilding. If Marston Moor, for example, was built upon, new residents could soon experience stepping over sandbags to appreciate naturally-formed ponds in their back gardens attracting large numbers of local wildfowl.

Whoever has drawn up these plans appear to display not only lack of knowledge regarding the topography of these areas, but also an obvious deficiency of common sense.

The city of York alone attracts large numbers of tourists and English language students from overseas, and its historic buildings, museums and other places of archaeological interest are renowned and well admired.

It is imperative that the heritage of this magnificent county is protected or a major jewel in the crown of this country will be lost for ever.

From: JM Fletcher, Clerk, Fulford Parish Council.

FULFORD Parish Council is writing in response to the excellent coverage of the Battle of Fulford that drew attention to the possible loss of this irreplaceable battlefield landscape (Yorkshire Post, February 16).

The whole of the battlefield lies within the Parish of Fulford and we continue to oppose the development at Germany Beck that will destroy so much of the historic landscape at the entrance to Fulford and the City of York.

Most impartial observers believe that the location of the battle along the line of Germany Beck has been established beyond reasonable doubt and it is disturbing that English Heritage has so far failed to register it.

It is even more troubling that the City of York Council actually wrote to English Heritage to formally object to the registration and that they appear willing to sacrifice this rare and precious site for the sake of housing quotas.

York does, of course, need housing, but not if it means the destruction of a historic site of national importance. No amount of money could ever restore the battlefield once it is covered in concrete. Fulford Parish Council would urge all those who care about the heritage of York to join in calling for its protection.