Council still aspiring to deliver Youth Zone

Barnsley Council is set to reiterate its aspiration to deliver a new Youth Zone in Barnsley town centre at a meeting next week.

The council’s ruling cabinet will be asked to approve a report that outlines the benefits the Youth Zone will bring to Barnsley – while also highlighting a six month pause on the project to assess the financial impact of COVID-19 on the council.

The proposed Youth Zone – which would be supported by charity group OnSide who run several Youth Zones across the country - would be built on the Eastern Gateway site near to Schwabisch Gmund Way, Harborough Hill Road and Mottram Street, after the council acquired the land earlier this year.

The report highlights how a building specifically for young people would diversify the existing town centre offer, adding to the momentum generated by The Glass Works and Library @The Lightbox. The Youth Zone would encourage more people to visit the town, strengthening the visitor economy.

The Youth Zone would offer a wide range of sporting, artistic, cultural, physical and recreational activities for young people. It would also offer opportunities for personal development and informal education to help raise aspirations and improve prospects.

While there is still a strong aspiration to deliver the Youth Zone, the project will be paused for six months to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the council.

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place, said: “The Youth Zone is very much still part of our plans and is approved in principle – it would be a great addition to Barnsley and become a real community hub for our young people.

“We’ve made a big step by acquiring the land the Youth Zone would be built on, and we’re in active discussions with OnSide about the project.

“We’re pausing the project for six months while we assess the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the council, which is the sensible thing to do. The Youth Zone would be a unique offer that can’t be replicated for a smaller cost.

“This pause will allow us to evaluate the finances and also allow us more time to engage with key stakeholders and assess what we need to do to make the project successful.”

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