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Alsop dismayed as council opts for 'overly commercial' developers

Will Alsop has warned that Barnsley council is risking the future of his practice's masterplan, which proposes the transformation of the town into a Yorkshire version of Lucca in Tuscany.

The Stirling Prize-winning architect has criticised the shortlist of development consortia on the Market Site - the first to be developed under his framework - claiming they are 'probably too commercial for the project'.

Alsop told the AJ that the council was mistaken if it thought developers Amec, 12/49 or AM would produce the kind of buildings required for the town.

'There is not a problem with knocking down the existing buildings because they are no good and this seems to make sense. But the developers are a strange choice to produce the replacement, ' he said.

'I will reserve judgement until I see the schemes they come up with, but at the moment there seems to be a major question mark.'

Alsop was commissioned by the local council and Yorkshire Forward in 2001 to draw up a masterplan that would completely 'remake' the town. The architect's resulting proposals, which were unveiled a year later to widespread astonishment, recommended transforming Barnsley on the model of a Tuscan hill town.

But Alsop's attention has now turned to the implementation of his proposals. 'There seems to be a problem with the transition of masterplans and we are worried this has just been carried out as a box-ticking exercise, ' he said.

'The problem is that in Barnsley the profits for developers will always be so tight that they have to cut corners.'

Barnsley council expressed 'surprise' at Alsop's comments.

'We have enjoyed working with Will and he has come up with a fantastic masterplan, ' said director of development David Kennedy.

'He has been very supportive of the market redevelopment and the project as a whole. We hope there will be opportunities for him to work in the town again.

'We feel that we have three very good developers and that they will come up with some very good projects, ' he added.

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