I write with reference to the debate started by Ivor Patterson of Banbury and David Kennedy of Barnsley on the relative merits of their respective towns. At first this seems to be childish bickering between the North and the South. However, after a closer inspection, what Patterson seems to suggest is that a complete transformation of any town fails to recognise its architectural, social and political roots, and that masterplans such as Alsop's for Barnsley ought to be pared back. He could not be more correct.
How can a town with such a strong, vibrant and distinct history want to transform itself into a Tuscan hill settlement? Just because the mining has left the town - and there are many who would be thankful for that - there is nothing to say that Barnsley cannot become a vibrant Yorkshire hill town.
Perhaps the ambition should be that in 100 years - when the hype surrounding the 'wonders of fresh olive oil (darling)' and the 'glorious Tuscan vistas' dies down - the good people of recession-hit Lucca will employ some Rome-based avant-garde architect to work up plans to turn it into a Yorkshire hill town.
Surely economic success is what drives regeneration.
If a means can be found to trigger a turnaround in the current economic climate, Barnsley will not need to look to some foreign town and alien masterplan to kick-start its confidence.
Parma ham is all well and good but let's not forget the black pudding.
Roger Harming, Southampton