Many readers will be feeling torn today as the level of opposition to the science centre scheme emerged.

The scheme has so much to recommend it in terms of attracting visitors, creating jobs, generating income, educational opportunities for local children and providing a worthy showcase for science and technology expertise (past and present) in Oxfordshire.

The fact that Science Oxford is behind it, the charity (formerly the Oxford Trust) founded by Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood, only added to confidence that this would be a scheme of real and lasting quality.

The fact that the 1960s office block, Macclesfield House would make way for the Magnet, could only be viewed as a bonus, though some understandably flinched that the register office would have to be sacrificed.

But the alliance of groups lining up against the existing scheme say that something altogether more important could be lost — with the Castle Mound, one of the city’s most recognisable and important ancient monuments, to be hidden from view by the buildings proposed by Foster and Partners.

Choosing this highly-sensitive site was always going to be a very mixed blessing. It is difficult to argue with the OPT’s assertion that Oxford Castle is the town’s most significant piece of history outside the university.

Having worked so hard to open it up to the public as a heritage site, the thought of it again disappearing from public view would be a bitter pill for the preservation trust to swallow.

But lack of space was always going to present major challenges on this site, given the ambitions for the centre with a planetarium, galleries, not forgetting company office space.

There was something fitting about a science centre being placed in the very heart of the city — and in celebrating Oxford’s heritage and scientific achievements side by side.

The idea of linking the Magnet and Mound seemed particularly appealing. Yet we are moving steadily towards a classic Oxford planning battle — in fact a uniquely painful one — with the forces of science lining up against the protectors of Oxford’s historic sites.

Debbie Dance of the OPT, who embraces the Magnet as a concept, believes revised plans could yet unlock the potential of the site for everyone.

In our letters pages, Malcolm Graham, former head of Oxfordshire Studies and local historian, put forward the idea of replacing Macclesfield House with a smaller discovery centre, allowing the reduction of the magnet’s height by providing space for embryonic businesses elsewhere.

However, with plans at such an advanced stage, and a planning application already submitted, we suspect the OPT, and the rest will be hard pressed to secure major revisions to the scheme.

Which will leave the city with having to balance the benefits of the magnet, against the loss of fine views of Oxford Castle’s Norman motte and the atmospheric views towards St George’s Tower.

For once it is tempting to feel just a little sympathy for city council planners.