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Revelation over town centre redevelopment

By Mike Cotton, Town Reporter Friday 24th January 2014
Sir Steve Houghton

The long-awaited redevelopment of Barnsley town centre will finally begin next year – although it will be nowhere near as ambitious as the original plans, the Chronicle can reveal.

 

The council had hoped to secure some £180m from investors for a total rebuild of the heart of town centre which would have had a Debenhams department store as its flagship.

 

The development had been promised for almost a decade and other high street names who had already signed up included H and M and the Nando's restaurant chain. Last week, the Chronicle revealed the department store had pulled out of the scheme and this week, council leader Sir Steve Houghton confirmed it would now be funding a more modest £41 million redevelopment itself after financial backers for the original scheme failed to materialise.

 

But crucially, he said the smaller scheme can go ahead almost immediately - with work expected to start within a year - because this time the council is not relying on external financiers.

 

"This is an incredibly exciting time for Barnsley and its town centre," he said. "This scheme will provide certainty to traders and businesses, and deliver the improvements that people have been waiting for. The new scheme includes:

 

• Demolition of the former central offices and adjacent shops;

• Redesign and redevelopment of the Metropolitan Centre, indoor market and semi-open market in the existing building;

• Proposed purchase of the former Training and Enterprise (TEC) building and adjacent property to the north of Kendray Street with redevelopment into a leisure and retail centre;

• A new £4m central library;

• Creation of a new public square to accommodate a new open market and a space for town centre events.

 

Sir Steve said it was disappointing the original grand plan including the Debenhams store could not happen but that the new scheme was in line with the anticipated retail environment over the next ten to 15 years. The only question mark is over the future of the multi-storey car park, but detailed plans will be revealed in the summer.

 

Sir Steve said the library was an important part of the scheme. The current library is proposed to close and be moved temporarily to Wellington House, Market Street. "If that recommendation goes ahead - the decision isn't final until February 6 when all councillors will vote on the scheme - the library will move from Wellington House to a new purpose-built library at the heart of the town centre. That is budgeted for in this scheme, and we have got the money."

 

He added that while the council was facing severe financial difficulties due to funding cuts, the £41m would not have an impact on the day-to-day 'revenue budget' of the council. "There will be no cuts as a result of any of this. We do have the money for this scheme, but it comes from capital receipts (sale of assets) and from our prudential borrowing allocation. That money is already allocated."

 

The council has an annual allowance to borrow money from the public works loan board to fund long term capital projects and cannot be used to pay its the day-to-day running costs. Its allocation had been saved up over recent years, meaning the money is available immediately for the scheme.

 

See this week's Chronicle for more details.

CommentsClick here to add a comment...
Posted by JH I Fri 24th Jan 2014 at 6:17pm

Yet again Barnsley is failed by the people who are in power. 'Strike while the iron's hot' is the well known saying, trouble is, this was about 30 years ago in Barnsley's case.

Posted by Stephen Rose I Sat 25th Jan 2014 at 9:37am

So were still going to be stuck with the outdated concrete monstrosity that is the Metropolitan Centre. I never go in to Barnsley town centre anymore because to be honest its an embarrasment when compared to similar towns.

Posted by Road Hog I Sat 25th Jan 2014 at 10:44am

Instead of spending lots of money on the town centre, why not spend some on the roads. I am sick to death on travelling on roads that are in need of desperate repair. I pay my full council tax and road tax and what do I get for it," NOTHING" The Council will spend a fortune on stupid things like that " MONSTROSITY OF A THING" outside the Town Hall, which would look at home in the scrap yard!. They now propose to spend 4 million on a new library, what's wrong with the old one! What the Council needs to accept is that folk are "SKINT"! You can put has many new restaurants, takeaways and fancy shops as you want, but if folk ain`t got the cash in their pockets, these places will not prosper. I and many Barnsley folk would agree that Barnsley was the best town in the world. Barnsley folk are polite, friendly, down to earth and would help anybody if needed. However the current council does give a "MONKEYS" about us "BARNSLEY FOLK" instead they treat the foreigners like "GODS" and at our expense! I now have had enough. These people in power have lost the plot and need to be removed!!! I will be voting UKIP and encouraging every one I know to do the same

Posted by M Herring I Sat 25th Jan 2014 at 5:30pm

Barnsley was ruined years ago when some overpaid half wits decided to concrete over the town centre. I visit often but nothing attracts me to go into the town centre. And why now, when there is no cash are our elected councillors going to spend milions and millions on some new concrete monstrosities? Whatever happened to living within your means?

Posted by Graham Nicholson I Sun 26th Jan 2014 at 8:19am

When they are going to start fetching in equipment in to start knocking buildings down

Posted by BB I Sun 26th Jan 2014 at 7:41pm

So they made a mess of it in the 1970s and are planning something along the same lines today. It beggars belief.

Posted by albert I Mon 27th Jan 2014 at 5:49pm

bmbc could not arrange a p~~s up in a brewery

Posted by allenmarriott I Sat 1st Feb 2014 at 10:33pm

why not buildt thecollage on thebewery site plentyof roomthere

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