Bringing health services to the high street with innovative plans for Barnsley town centre

A partnership with local organisations will transform some parts of the Alhambra Shopping Centre in Barnsley into a health and wellbeing hub for the community.  

Barnsley Council has revealed its plans to create a health and wellbeing hub within the Alhambra Shopping Centre, in collaboration with Barnsley Hospital, Barnsley Premier Leisure (BPL), South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SWYFT), South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA), The Alhambra Shopping Centre and The Glass Works. This follows the announcement in September 2023 that Barnsley Council had purchased the leasehold of the shopping centre.  

The new health and wellbeing hub will expand the range of services and facilities available at the Alhambra Shopping Centre. 

Barnsley Hospital is planning to move some of its outpatient services out of the hospital into the new hub at the Alhambra. This will help reduce missed appointments and help improve health outcomes for people who will be more able to access vital services in a place familiar to them rather than having to go to hospital. 

It's estimated more than 100,000 visits a year could be made to the Alhambra instead of Barnsley Hospital, reducing traffic and pressure on parking in the area around the hospital, while also bringing more visitors and economic benefit into our thriving town centre.   

Another key part of the health and wellbeing hub will be delivered by BPL, which is planning a ‘Your Space Feel Good Hub’. This will be a large, fun, friendly and welcoming space offering a variety of different health, fitness, and wellbeing activities and is expected to attract 150,000 visitors a year.  

There will also be potential other community spaces, run by partner organisations, which can host a variety of events and activities.  

The project also plans to invest in the existing retail offer in the Alhambra, improving lighting, seating, and overall experience for customers.  

The health and wellbeing hub provides the opportunity to build on the success of the trailblazing NHS Community Diagnostic Centre operated by Barnsley Hospital. Located in the heart of The Glass Works shopping centre, the CDC opened in April 2022 offering a range of diagnostic services, such as CT scans, ultrasounds, x-ray, and blood services. The centre is delivering real results for local people with a 22% increase in uptake in breast screening appointments, for example. 

Bringing health to the high street is part of Barnsley Council’s bold and innovative approach to high street regeneration, which aims to create a more diverse and resilient town centre that meets its residents' and visitors' needs and aspirations. We know that high streets need to diversify, providing lots of reasons for people to visit, and we're being proactive in doing this in Barnsley.     
The hub will complement the highly successful £220 million redevelopment, The Glass Works, which delivered a new library, market hall, cinema, restaurants, shops, and public spaces.  

Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, said: "Once again, Barnsley is leading the way by using innovative approaches to make health services more accessible to the people of Barnsley.  

“We’re delighted to announce our plans to create a health and wellbeing hub at the Alhambra Shopping Centre, benefiting the whole community. This is a great example of how we’re working with our partners to use our town centre assets and deliver high-quality services and facilities for our residents. The health and wellbeing hub will improve our people's health and wellbeing and boost the footfall and vibrancy of our town centre.  

“Barnsley is a bold and innovative place that is leading the way in high street regeneration, and we are proud of what we’re achieving together."  

A new health and wellbeing hub in Barnsley town centre will also help alleviate parking pressures at Barnsley Hospital. Some services will move to the town centre, so more spaces will be free for those who need to go to the hospital site.  

The new hub will be convenient for more people, as it will be in a central and easy-to-reach location. A short walk from Barnsley Interchange, and close to shops, cafes and other facilities, the hub will make health and wellbeing services more accessible. We are also looking into how to improve the transport links to the centre, through public transport, cycling, and walking.  

Bob Kirton, Barnsley Hospital Managing Director, said: “I am delighted that our Board of Directors has agreed an Outline Business Case supporting this exciting opportunity for Barnsley to build on the success of the ground-breaking Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) in The Glass Works. 

 “Feedback from staff and patients has consistently demonstrated Barnsley town centre is a popular and convenient location for healthcare appointments. Located within a short distance from bus routes and with easy access to nearby parking, bringing healthcare to the high street will not only help reduce missed appointments, but will also improve health outcomes for people who will be more able to access vital services in a place familiar to them. 

“Sharing a space with other healthcare and wellbeing providers makes sense. The people of Barnsley will be able to access a wide variety of services in one place. 

 “Locating some of our outpatient hospital services in Barnsley’s Alhambra shopping centre will ultimately mean acute hospital services will have more space available to accommodate patients, staff, and facilities. 

 “Our mission is to provide the best possible care for the people of Barnsley and beyond at all stages of their life, and this project provides us with many options and opportunities to tailor service delivery to best accommodate the needs of the people we serve.” 

Michael Hirst, Chief Executive of BPL, said: “Our purpose is to help the people of Barnsley feel good, and we're all really excited about the innovative Your Space Feel Good Hub which we plan to bring to the Alhambra. It'll be a large, fun, friendly and welcoming space offering a variety of different health, fitness, and wellbeing activities to help local people start their feel-good journey.”  

Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire, said: "The health inequalities we face in South Yorkshire are stark. But we’re investing to tackle that challenge head on, by making access to healthcare easier.  

“The new health and wellbeing hub in Barnsley town centre will build on the work of the brilliant screening centre, by putting even more vital services and facilities at the heart of the town. I’m really pleased to be able to support that move with a significant investment, as part of our plan to make all of South Yorkshire healthier, wealthier, happier, and better connected.” 

All partner organisations are working together to bring the health and wellbeing hub to fruition. More details will be announced in due course. 

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