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Archive - Monday, 12 March 2001
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Campaigners' fears over city icon
A 250-strong army of demonstrators rallied in the shadow of Clifford's Tower and vowed to keep battling against the controversial Coppergate II shopping centre scheme.
Resounding chants of "our city is not for sale" had earlier echoed through the streets of York as the mass of banner-bearing protesters marched to the ancient monument from Exhibition Square to fight Land Securities' £60 million scheme for the Castle car park and to call for a public inquiry.
The demonstration, organised by The Castle Area Campaign Group, united young and old and concerned citizens with a cross-section of activists.
On the steps of the Castle Museum, a message of support from the Archbishop of York Dr David Hope was read out by campaigner Gordon Campbell-Thomas to loud cheers from the crowd.
"He believes that, in general, plans of this nature in built-up areas should be doubly scrutinised. He says we need more space, not less," he said.
The Archbishop expressed "grave concerns" over the planned development, which has won conditional approval from City of York Council, and called for Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to hold a public inquiry.
"We hope all who know and love York will join us in expressing our concerns on this matter," the Archbishop added.
Jane Grenville, an archaeologist from the University of York who recently completed a study of the Castle area for English Heritage, highlighted the historic significance of the site to demonstrators.
She said: "This site has never been a commercial site. It has always been separate from the city. The scheme would not only alter the character of this area but it would also alter the character of the city by drawing the commercial centre down into this side of the city."
She added that Clifford's Tower was not just an asset to citizens but was an icon to visitors.
Campaigner Frank Ormston said: "This is a clear attack on our heritage and something people want to resist tooth and nail."
He said people should be determined to fight "this blot on our landscape" even if calls for a public inquiry failed.
Future action could include protesters occupying the Castle car park.
The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions is still considering whether to call in the development bid for a public inquiry.
Updated: 09:43 Monday, March 12, 2001