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Ivor Patterson (AJ letters 08.09.05) refers to Will Alsop's 'absurd makeover' of Barnsley with its 'seeming contempt for history'.

Barnsley is a community which has a strong and proud heritage in market trading, glass and wire making, and linen manufacture. Barnsley was also the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield.

Now we are dealing with life after coal and we have looked to both our heritage and to our future. Our vision of Barnsley, inspired and worked upon by Will Alsop, is that of the 21st century market town, building on a total of 750 years of market trading.

Not a single element of Barnsley's heritage is being demolished in this plan and, indeed, key buildings such as the Civic Hall are being restored and brought back into use under the new development, as envisaged by Alsop.

I note that Mr Patterson writes from Banbury, a town whose population was described in 1601 as 'far gone in puritanism' when they destroyed the High Cross, having earlier got rid of their Maypole, both of which were long-standing architectural features of the town. I can perhaps therefore understand his worries about contempt for history and the potential damage it can cause to a community.

In 1648, Banbury demolished its 500-year-old castle, which had been damaged during the Civil War, and used the reclaimed materials to renew other damaged buildings in the town. Just as Banbury had to move on from its past as a Royalist stronghold, Barnsley is no longer a coalfield area and is now becoming an expanding market town at the heart of Yorkshire.

No community is stuck in aspic. It is by change and development that history is made.

David Kennedy, executive director development, Barnsley MBC

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