I live in an historic city which makes every trip into town a visit to a byegone era. It is a privilege and a pleasure for me and for many of the thousands who live here and the numerous visitors who pass through.
Bath is one of the few cities in the world to have Unesco World Heritage status. And it has been proven that cities can lose this. Dresden, which went ahead with a modern motorway bridge development too close to the city centre, did so.
The new shopping centre that was opened in Southgate, Bath, in 2009 was aruguably an improvement on the hideous 1960s monstrosity it replaced. But it fails to do one thing that the old shopping centre maintained - the buildings are too tall and visitors can no longer see out over the hills around the city from the centre of the development - something that has always been a feature of the city.
Now the new Riverside development of thousands of flats (many bought by overseas investors and standing empty, but that's a whole other issue) are threatening the status all over again. Tall, brash and modern, and very close to the Georgian city centre, they can be seen from every vantage point, a raw eyessore. There has been little space planned in to plant cover which would soften the appearance over time.
Now the city council want to build a Park and Ride to the east of the city, concreting over beautiful green belt, another site that will be very visible from many vantage points; a gleaming sea of cars by day and empty tarmac by night.
I know a balance needs to be struck, and proponents of development say we can't live in a museum. But my inclination is to say, why not? There are other modern cities you can choose to live in if you want that. I think we are risking our beautiful city and its outstanding reminders of its past. The city in which I set my novel The Girl in the Mask, was built over and adapted by the Georgians. Perhaps people felt even then it was being damaged. But what was built was high quality, was outstandingly beautiful and has endured. Somehow, I don't think the Park and Ride and the Riverside are going to be drawing tourists in 200 years time.