Public consultation planned for new town centre design strategy

A new plan looking at how Barnsley Town Centre can move towards being zero carbon and the direction future development should take is being presented to our Cabinet next week.

Cabinet will be asked to approve a public consultation later this summer where people will have chance to review the plan and offer their comments.

The draft plan has been prepared by award-winning design and research consultancy Urbed, who point out that while the retail market in places like Barnsley and Sheffield has been significantly affected by the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown restrictions, Barnsley has fared better than many similar towns in the UK. Before the pandemic Barnsley was bucking the national trend for retail, and is in an excellent position to respond to the emerging trends following the pandemic.

The report is an exciting opportunity to consider the future of the Town Centre. It suggests measures for post- Covid recovery and looks at future trends. It reflects on work already planned such as The Seam (the Digital Campus at the Courthouse site including DMC 01 and DMC 02) and the Heritage Action Zone on Eldon Street, and suggests other interventions that will complement the fantastic regeneration work that has taken place already through The Glass Works, Library @ the Lightbox and new town square. This future strategy will ensure that the Town Centre is vibrant, safe and accessible for everyone.

The plan’s overarching theme of ‘Sustainability’ sits above six other themes: Retail; Culture; Work; Housing; Greenspace and Connection.

These are the basis of a proposed spatial strategy which sets out how to make the best use of the town centre in the future. The report suggests a long list of potential projects under each theme. These are suggestions that could be considered in the future, within 10 years, between 10 and 20 years, or beyond 20 years. We will be asking for people’s views on these projects and which ones  should go forward into the final Town Centre Plan. People will also have the opportunity to tell us if there are other projects they would like to see that may not have been considered.

The overarching sustainability theme is linked to Barnsley Council’s Zero 45 commitment to work towards net-zero carbon for the whole borough by 2045.

Suggested projects include more green space within the town centre, as well as more housing close to the town centre and better links to enable active travel like walking and cycling, and increased take up of public transport.

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “As we look towards moving on from the restrictions the pandemic has put on us all, and we prepare for the full opening of the Glass Works later this year, it’s an ideal time to think what the changes we’re seeing mean for the wider town centre as a whole.

“Once restrictions are lifted, we will see the continued growth of people wishing to spend their leisure time in our town centre with the fantastic offer the Glass Works is creating.

“We know people are already wanting to move out of bigger city centres, yet they still want first class amenities. We can give them that here in Barnsley by providing more family homes in town centre neighbourhoods, with outdoor space and access to sports amenities, independent shops, cafés, restaurants and culture.”

Read the full cabinet report. If approved by Cabinet, consultation will run from the end of July to the end of September. To pre-register your interest in taking part, send an email to UrbanPlanningConsultation@barnsley.gov.uk.

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