THE Reinvigorate York project has an unhappy precedent.

Like York, Carlisle was a Roman garrison town guarding the north. Its hill-top citadel, protected by high walls, enclosed narrow cobbled charming streets.

Buildings on street corners had pepper-pot turrets with pointy roofs. Only the west walls remain intact of the curtain walls, from whose high parapets are fine views and the enormous Tithe Barn.

Most famous were The Lunes, six parallel/medieval cobbled streets similar to Shambles. These exited on to Carlisle’s town square between a row of Georgian houses and shop fronts. Cobbles and pavings, granite sets encircled an ancient stepped stone cross.

The cross directed the eye to the medieval town hall. The nearby cobbled Green Market before the timbered guildhall was popular for stall holders.

None of this was modern or smart enough for the city’s councillors. The historic lanes were replaced by a red-brick shopping mall.

Thwarted by a preservation order from destroying the town hall, the zealots stripped the town square of its cobbles, sets and pavings to create a bare windswept area devoid of character.

To walk in York is to tread directly on history and in contact with the footsteps of those past.

All city councillors should have to take a course in urban architectural history. It is too late now for poor Carlisle. York can still be saved.

Patricia Palaeologina, Windsor Garth, Acomb, York.