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Last Updated: Friday, 20 June, 2003, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Barnsley's Italian job takes shape
Alsop's model
The halo of light would be seen for miles around
As a master plan is about to be revealed showing how Barnsley can be transformed into a modern "walled Tuscan hill town", BBC News Online's Will Froggatt takes a look at the proposals.

The scheme has been based on a model of the town drawn up by award-winning architect Will Alsop.

His ideas include beaming a halo of light 60 feet into the air and surrounding the town hall with a "living wall" of shops and offices.

Council chiefs say their aim is to use the plan as the basis to create a thriving 21st Century market town.

At the cornerstones of the Remaking Barnsley project are the redevelopment of the market, and the Metropolitan Centre.

We've got to move forward for all our futures, and the master plan is just the beginning.
Steve Houghton, council leader

A new passenger transport interchange, a digital media centre, and new offices at the back of the town hall are also in the pipeline.

When Will Alsop first unveiled his vision for the future of Barnsley last year, it received national and international attention.

One of the most striking aspects of his creation was the halo of light to be beamed over the town, and Alsop's team is still looking at its feasibility.

The council has said the actual look of some of the new buildings will not necessarily be the same as the ones drawn up in the original concept.

It is understood the Alsop team will be involved in the design of the digital media centre, and has been involved in discussions on the market and the interchange.

Moving forward

Council leader Steve Houghton said it was important for Barnsley to move forward:

He said: "I think we stand on the threshold of a tremendous future for the town and the borough, but we have to grasp it.

"We're very proud of the mining heritage and indeed the other history of the town, but we can't be held prisoner by that, and we can't keep hankering back to it.

"We've got to move forward for all our futures, and the master plan is just the beginning.

Barnsley market
The redevelopment of the market is at the heart of the project

"It isn't just about rethinking what the town centre looks like. It is about rethinking the whole culture of the place."

He added: "It doesn't mean everything Will Alsop says will get done, because what will get done is what the private sector want and what the people of Barnsley want."

Cash boost

Funding for the first stages of the project has come from the European Objective One fund, and regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward.

A spokesman for Yorkshire Forward said: "We want to see a world class town that people want to live in, and we will work with local people to try to bring the town's vision to life."

A manned exhibition showing the latest plans is to go on show to the public in September in part of the Civic Theatre, which has been closed for the last five years.

It follows a display of Alsop's model at the Design Centre earlier in the year which was visited by 3,000 people.

The council says it is important to keep people informed of the progress as part of the renaissance initiative.

The master plan showing the updated proposals is to be unveiled next month.

Tuscan vision for Barnsley
10 Jan 03  |  England

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