Barnsley was once an industrial town with thriving coal mining and glassmaking industries. The South Yorkshire town is now at the centre of regeneration efforts. In 2002, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council launched a regeneration programme designed to revitalise the town centre with an improved transport interchange, a new digital media centre, along with new offices and apartments. With its strategic location along the M1 corridor, the town’s business parks have also spurred job growth.
In an effort to further develop the local economy, the Barnsley Town Centre Regeneration Project will add approximately 35,000 square metres of new retail and leisure space. This will include new shops, restaurants and cafes as well as a family entertainment centre and cinema. Led by the Barnsley Council, the project involves £50 million in government funding and significant investment opportunities. The project’s Gross Development Value (GDV) is estimated at £100 million and it will help create an estimated 300 temporary and 700 permanent jobs according to the UK government’s Regeneration Investment Organisation (RIO).
The project continues previous investments in the town centre, including the £8.2-million digital media centre. The centre offers incubator space for start-up businesses in the high tech sector. Barnsley’s new transport interchange sits next to the 3.81-hectare site being developed under the Barnsley Town Centre Regeneration Project. Completed in 2007, the redeveloped Barnsley Interchange combines the town’s main rail and bus stations and handles about 4.5 million passengers each year. New office and residential development in the town centre will also complement the town’s latest regeneration effort.
Other town centre investments in recent years include a new building for Barnsley College, which opened in September 2011. There has also been a £16 million investment on a 1,000-place sixth form college, which will accommodate the town’s growing student population. The college was built on the site of Barnsley former central library, which was demolished as part of the first phase of the town centre’s revamp. Improvements to the public realm in the town centre included Experience Barnsley, a project of the Barnsley People’s Museum and Archives Centre. The cultural and discovery centre at the old town hall boasts new museum galleries that attract approximately 250,000 visitors each year.
The latest phase of the Barnsley Town Centre Regeneration Project will involve the demolition and improvement of several buildings in the town centre by 2017. Demolition work started in late 2015 and construction of new leisure and retail facilities will begin in 2017. Construction is expected to continue into 2019.
Once complete, the site will feature a new landscaped public square that will link with main routes into the town centre. The square will be able to accommodate market stalls and events. It will also face the town’s indoor market, which will be refurbished as part of the project. Updates to the Metropolitan Centre and Market Hall are expected to be complete by 2017. The market will also be extended and the hope is to create an airy space that is integrated with the exterior square. A new shopping boulevard that will extend Lambra Road will also be ready by 2017, adding new commercial and leisure opportunities in the town centre. A new state-of-the-art central library on Mayday Green and additional car parking are also part of the regeneration project.
The site is being designed by the IBI Group, which was selected following a public tendering process. The international architecture and engineering firm’s Better Barnsley vision has already been recognised with the prestigious National Urban Design Award in 2016. For the management of the project, Turner & Townsend and Queensberry Real Estate were selected by the Barnsley Council.