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Locals are right behind my Barnsley vision, says Alsop

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Barnsley locals have welcomed plans for a 21stcentury Hadrian's Wall for the Yorkshire town, says architect Will Alsop, despite fears his scheme may be watered down. In a video, produced by his filmmaker son, Alsop gave a 3D vision of the project involving a nine-storey ring around the town (AJ. 18.4.02). It will be topped with a grassed walkway and a halo of lasers.

About 90 per cent of people who attended earlier workshops were encouraged by the scheme said Alsop, who is working with Landscape Design Associates. This was echoed by organiser Yorkshire Forward Regional Development Agency which said the wall had 'terrific backing'.

The RDA is running the Urban Renaissance Programme in six towns, and was keen to brush off fears John Thompson and Partners had been called in to work with Alsop and may dilute the scheme. 'There's no alternative masterplan, ' said Yorkshire Forward director of urban renaissance Alan Simpson. 'We are using Will Alsop's initial work as a starting point and John Thompson will look at extra themes like connecting neighbourhoods and gateway entrances.'

Thompson is also working on plans for Scarborough with Dutch landscaper West 8, but was not available for comment on Barnsley. The other teams and towns are Latham Architects and EDAW working at Grimsby; Koetter Kim in Wakefield; Urban Initiatives with landscape architec Camlin Lonsdale at Doncaster; and town planner David Lock Associates in Huddersfield.

Doncaster involves unifying several developments in the centre to create a cultural quarter Urban Initiatives is also working to improve connectivity within Doncaster town centre, riven by major roads and subways, and to improve the evening economy through good design.

Meanwhile, Yorkshire Forward questioned the merits of Labour's White Paper on regional assemblies in England. Your Region, Your Choice, published last week, proposed eight regional assemblies which would look at regeneration, housing, planning, and culture. 'How much economic power over key issues like resources, transport and planning wil it devolve?' asked chairman Graham Hall. 'Will i enhance the quality of decision making on economic issues and how will it benefit business growth?'

Experts have also said assemblies may be dominated by city issues, and that towns and countryside areas could lose out on regeneration and development initiatives and funding.

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