What's more, isn't it exactly this reconnection with our history, and the creative recycling of the best of the structures it has left us, that lies at the heart of the idea of what is now called "sustainable development"?

London's rich history, as an evolutionary, "organic" city has enabled it, for the most part, to resist what I can only describe as the "genetically modified" urban planning that has built so many soulless housing estates, shopping malls and office "parks" elsewhere.

Yet there are tensions and frustrations as new and expanding businesses seek space to develop within this crowded and ancient metropolis.

Sometimes it is possible to use these pressures to regenerate and revitalise places that have lost their economic rationale, most visibly at Docklands and Canary Wharf. But elsewhere, especially in the City, it isn't so easy. Space is scarce, forcing new office building onto sites that were, until recently, regarded as London's traditional East End. These changes, although inevitable, and in many cases welcome, require sensitivity and care, if they are to strengthen London's economy and lift the fortunes of the capital's poorer communities.

Shoreditch, for example, where the offices of my own charitable foundation are, has enjoyed a tremendous renewal in recent years, as many small and medium-sized enterprises have found that this crowded network of adaptable, well-lit and robust old buildings offers a perfect urban environment in which to flourish.

Close to those offices lies a remarkable but derelict structure of an altogether grander scale. Occupying a 10-acre site - equivalent to 20 football pitches - the long-abandoned Bishopsgate Goodsyard is a unique, although largely unknown brick-built construction, now facing imminent demolition.

Built in the mid-19th century, the Goodsyard was the first east London railway terminus. Within its subterranean depths, now hidden from public view, there are some of the very finest brick arches to be found anywhere in the world, the product of a time when traditional craftsmanship and engineering ambition went hand in hand. It also contains the Braithwaite Viaduct, one of the very earliest railway structures ever built.

Some of these crafted arches are now occupied by small businesses, sports facilities and entertainment spaces, but sadly most remain empty. Few people have seen these spectacular spaces, but for those who have, the potential for imaginative reuse is obvious.

Yet now, some are suggesting that the entire structure needs to be demolished to allow for the construction of the new East London Underground line and a large number of new office buildings. But why, one might ask, isn't a more creative approach possible?

One that finds a more sensitive and worthwhile alternative than yet another predictable proliferation of glass-sided offices. Surely, there must be a way to use the immense character of these historic arches to reinvigorate this unique part of London as somewhere distinctive and connected to its pioneering history? Or do we really want to destroy one of the city's most astonishing hidden treasures, only to replace it with just another conventional office development?

I remember the similar pressures that surrounded the abandoned Covent Garden market, back in the 1970s, when demolition beckoned, but could anyone now deny the wisdom of the decision to save it for new uses?

Doesn't the similar success of Camden Lock, Spitalfields Market, Southwark's Borough Market and many other examples prove that businesses, residents and visitors will "give their eye teeth" to be in places that wear their history with pride and new purpose? Don't these and similar projects, including those of my own building preservation charity, the Phoenix Trust, show how our abandoned built heritage can be resurrected, not as dead museum pieces of industrial archaeology, but as lively places that blend the old and the new with universal appeal?

What's more, isn't it exactly this reconnection with our history, and the creative recycling of the best of the structures it has left us, that lies at the heart of the idea of what is now called "sustainable development"?

Isn't it also precisely the failure to see such potential that has led to the expensive scars that so many earlier insensitive redevelopments have left on our urban neighbourhoods? It will, I believe, be a desperate tragedy if the same approach is taken at Bishopsgate. Perhaps, too, I am not alone in feeling that we owe some sort of responsibility to the hundreds of Victorian craftsmen and builders who worked to construct this most remarkable of buildings.

Yet although the bulldozers are poised to move in, it now seems that there may be a solution. English Heritage has shown how it would be both quicker and more economical to run the new East London line on top of the existing Goodsyard; a structure which was, after all, constructed for precisely this use!

English Heritage's report, compiled by leading planning and engineering experts, finds the existing structure to be safe and secure, with "an indefinite life span" and "ample structural capacity for the new East London line and station as well as new buildings".

It also brings the Goodsyard's arches back to life as offices, workshops, homes, a park and shops, that could form a lively link between Bethnal Green and Brick Lane in the East End and the office workers of the City; an integration of two communities, and not just a sterile commercial barrier.

Is it too much to ask that those ultimately responsible for the fate of the Goodsyard - Railtrack, London Underground and the planning authorities - will take this encouraging new vision and work with English Heritage to find a solution that benefits all sections of the east London community?

And before any plan is commenced, do you think they will specifically include the option to reuse and recycle this remarkable structure that has, for far too many years, been left abandoned and blighted? Or is the Goodsyard to be destroyed even before any such option is seriously considered?

London will always be a place where the demands of the new will sometimes clash with the apparent constraints of the old. The future of the Goodsyard provides a chance to ask whether, by working together, it may be possible to reconcile these apparent opposites, and create an innovative, exciting, yet timeless landmark for London.