There’s a year to go until one of the only shopping and leisure destinations under construction in the country opens its doors to the public.
The Glass Works development in Barnsley town centre is part of a major Council-led plan to regenerate the town and will feature up to 25 new shops, seven new family restaurants, a Superbowl UK featuring a bowling alley, Laser Quest experience and soft play centre, and a 13 screen Cineworld cinema featuring large-scale 4DX screen.
The centre is now 60% fully let with Deichmann the latest store to sign up to the scheme and another new addition to the town centre. A new public square with an attractive water feature and a multi-story car park also form part of the development, with several big name brands already signed up including Next, Sports Direct alongside fashion arm USC, TK Maxx, Muffin Break, local independent restaurant MEET and Nando’s. JD Sports, Coffee Boy and Falco Lounge are already open and trading.
It comes as a recent report from the Centre for Cities shows Barnsley is in the top 10 towns and cities in England for spend following lockdown, with an overall recovery index of 81 against a pre-lockdown baseline of 100. That is well above other major towns and cities.
It’s all part of Barnsley Council’s long-term aim to revitalise Barnsley town centre, with phase one already completed which has seen the opening of a thriving refurbished market, state-of-the-art Library @ the Lightbox and Market Kitchen and improved public realm.
Cllr Sir Steve Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, said: “The fact we are a year away from opening - despite challenging economic times - is testament to the strength of this game-changing scheme that will have a hugely positive impact on our local economy and the lives of people right across Barnsley.
“There’s a huge amount of confidence in The Glass Works – not least due to the new lettings we have recently secured for the centre, on top of the big names already signed up, and we’re committed to delivering the scheme now more than ever.
“This is not just another shopping centre, it’s something much more ambitious, especially given the mix between leisure and shopping. We firmly believe the flexibility of the scheme is what the high street needs, what Barnsley needs and can complement and strengthen the rest of the town centre.
“It's important that our whole town centre is included in our development plans. The aim is to offer people even more reasons to come to Barnsley as a whole and tap into those major markets that aren’t currently visiting. The whole town can benefit, and the plan means we are looking at a long-term joined up approach – with The Glass Works just one key part of the wider regeneration of our town centre. Investing approximately £200m into our town centre means we’re creating a thriving, bustling, family-friendly high street that people can visit at any time, day or night. Our residents, shoppers and workers will benefit from an accessible pedestrian bridge linking Barnsley Interchange to the scheme, comprehensive safety measures and a revamped public realm.
“Even though there’s no escaping that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, which may impact the overall cost of the scheme as we move forward, we’re committed now more than ever to The Glass Works and our town centre regeneration. We’re investing in our town centre for the people of Barnsley, giving our residents something they richly deserve. Our investment will help create a future-proof high street that will protect our investment put Barnsley firmly on the map.
“Barnsley does best when it works together. When the scheme opens, we’ll be looking at a thriving market town which will offer more than it ever has before.”
The development is also home to around 180 rooftop photo-voltaic cells, similar to solar panels, to generate electricity.
Paul Sargent, Chief Executive, Queensberry: “The important role our regional towns and cities play has become more apparent than ever in the last year – particularly during the lock-down period. The Centre for Cities research has demonstrated the benefits of the proactive approach our partners at Barnsley Metropolitan Council has taken. The investment to deliver The Glass Works has helped to position the town as a perfect example of a thriving regional hub - to be 60% let at this stage in the development cycle, considering the wider economic back drop, is really positive.
“The strength of the occupier interest is down to the fact that The Glass Works is more than just a shopping centre - it offers ease of access, a sense of community, facilities for independent traders alongside established national brands, the historic market, cultural and leisure uses and access to open space. The Council really has provided a road map for delivering regeneration and as we look to the next year, we are confident about the opportunities that lie ahead for Barnsley and the wider regen.”
Once completed The Glass Works will cover around 3.8 hectares. The name reflects Barnsley’s heritage and history playing home to major glass manufacturing which made a major contribution to the town’s economy in the past.