Readers with long memories will remember that the area we know as Priory Walk used to be called the Arcade.

Here’s a picture of it with its elegant Edwardian glass and cast iron roof. It used to house a variety of furniture and hardware shops and the famous pet shop where, as a child, I used to look at the puppies and rabbits in the window.

Since then it has changed its name, first to Kingsway, then to Priory Walk. The glassware is long gone of course, but not forgotten.

What we don’t know is how it’s going to be in the future because some interesting plans have gone in to demolish much of Priory Walk and Long Wyre Street and replace it with two large four-storey housing blocks with a small number of shop units below.

My regular readers may know how I feel about the prospect of turning historic Colchester town centre into a lifeless dormitory town by building massive blocks on every available space. For those who don’t, I sum it up by saying that as the flats are only suitable as first purchase for childless couples and singles without cars, no community can be made: Children will never play together and grow up here; neighbours are not likely to be life-long friends; and the inner core can be a stressful and noisy place in the evenings.

There are three applications in front of the planning committee from two separate developers. One is for the area to the south of the Priory Walk, the others for the bit north of it. They show two blocky sets of flats with a limited number of shops below. They will be four storeys high and only a few metres apart, so walking between them will be a bit like entering a canyon.

I have every respect for the architect involved - he has to square the circle of the requirement to get the maximum number of living units at the minimum cost from the space available.

I do not believe either of the buildings are of the quality of design or utility that Colchester needs. Nor will they address Colchester’s future in any sense.

There are lots of examples worldwide of buildings which raise the spirit and enhance the environment. These do neither. They will, however, eject a number of small businesses.

I worry about the large supermarket and how it will be affected by the probable closure of Priory Walk from the Wyre Street end during a couple of years of demolition and rebuilding.

I worry about the dust, the noise, the narrowing of Long Wyre Street when they erect huge hoardings. I worry about the heavy demolition equipment, and the many vehicles that will be needed to take away hundreds of tonnes of rubble and deliver new materials down narrow streets.

But mostly I worry because it is not led by what is right for this street, the local people, for tourism development and for the town centre, but led only by commercial interests.

I think the answer is to refurbish the old buildings. But if they must build new - and remember the new planning laws take away much the council’s power to refuse permission - it would be good to try to minimise the canyon effect by recreating the look and feel of the old Arcade by means of a high design glass roof over Priory Walk, perhaps like an green plant-filled atrium, with shopfronts in timber and traditional materials and proportions.

This will give the impression of the human scale and make the walk an attractive place in its own right. And maybe a fish shop, a greengrocer, a baker?