The Glass Works square and new shops to open next month

Construction work on The Glass Works – Barnsley Council’s transformative town centre development scheme – is almost complete, with hoardings coming down next month to reveal the town’s new public square.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, construction has been able to safely continue and is set to be completed only a couple of months behind the pre-pandemic timeline.

Following the lifting of key restrictions, all existing elements of The Glass Works – including Library @ The Lightbox, Barnsley Markets and Market Kitchen – have reopened to the public. Falco Lounge, Coffee Boy, JD Sports and Deichmann are also welcoming shoppers and visitors once again.

The full scheme will be launched in phases over the next four-to-six months. The first new openings, which will take place on 9 September, will see Next, TK Maxx and Sports Direct (with USC) unveil their brand-new Barnsley stores, with recent signing Flannels anticipated to open very soon.

The retailers continued presence in Barnsley and desire to be located in flagship premises in The Glass Works demonstrates a long-term commitment to trading in the town. Following the phased opening period, it is anticipated that 90% of the development will be let – significantly enhancing the town centre’s retail and leisure offer.

A spokesperson for Next said: “We are very excited to be moving to our new store in Barnsley town centre. We have great confidence in The Glass Works and moving to a larger, more accessible and highly visible store enables us to deliver the maximum retail experience for both our staff and customers alike.” 

The pandemic has created some unprecedented and well-publicised difficulties for food and drink, leisure and retail operators across the UK and their corporate timescales have been affected in different ways.

In Barnsley, bowling venue Superbowl UK is still on track to open in 2021 – creating a whole new family dynamic in the town centre, while Cineworld and Nando’s are now anticipating opening early next year.

Alex Hyams, Senior Leasing Manager, Queensberry, commented: “Over the last 18 months the pandemic impacted on occupiers’ ability to open new stores nationally, which has, unsurprisingly, caused some disruption to the leasing efforts in Barnsley.

“Nonetheless the town has continued to perform well when compared to what we’re seeing in many parts of the UK. Interest and confidence in Barnsley and The Glass Works has remained strong. We continue to build momentum and have a very exciting pipeline of interest, which will lead to further announcements in the coming weeks and months. Watch this space.”

These impacts have not diminished the enthusiasm of anchor tenants for being part of this exciting development. Cineworld in particular are looking forward to opening their 13-screen multiplex in early 2022.

Kevin Frost, U.K. Property Director of Cineworld, said: “We are very committed to opening in Barnsley and can’t wait to welcome audiences to our new Cineworld in The Glass Works. People have really missed going to the cinema and our Barnsley Cineworld complex will offer an unrivalled audience experience. Our teams are on-site regularly planning our ambitious fit-out to ensure the cinema offers a visitor experience that is second to none in terms of comfort and quality. We look forward to welcoming visitors from across Barnsley, all of Yorkshire and further afield in 2022, for great storytelling and the best movies handpicked by us for you.”

The Glass Works Square will also open next month. In addition to significantly enhancing the accessibility and connectivity of the town centre by providing direct access from the transport interchange, the square is also expected to become a popular destination in its own right. It will be a place for meetings, social get-togethers, a lunchtime picnic with a work colleague, and a myriad of special events in the Barnsley events calendar.

Plans are under way to host regular community and cultural events – such as performances, food festivals and the return of Bright Nights in November. The new public space will also be home to Barnsley’s acclaimed Covid memorial sculpture, which received approval earlier this summer and celebrates the unsung heroes of the pandemic.

Cllr Steve Houghton, the Leader of Barnsley Council, said: “The opening of The Glass Works Square and removal of the hoardings is a truly great moment. It gives everyone a chance to see the scale and quality of their new public space. It really improves the links between all key areas of the town centre and makes it a more enjoyable and attractive place to shop, work and relax.

“We have lots of exciting cultural events and activation ideas for autumn and are looking forward to seeing the square come to life during our large-scale winter events as we move towards Christmas.

“Although Covid has forced some of our signed occupiers to adjust their opening timelines, we are delighted with the finished product and just like the public, we are very much looking forward to more shops, bars and leisure venues opening soon. We have a great line-up of businesses fitting out units and getting ready for opening – it should be an exciting opening period.”

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