AMBITIOUS plans to transform an area of wasteland on the edge of the town centre into a housing estate, multi-storey car park and an innovative youth zone to help get kids off the streets have been revealed to the Chronicle.

The former electricity depot, which lies between Schwabisch Gmund Way, Harborough Hill Road and Mottram Street, has been derelict for years. Various plans have been outlined in the past, including for a supermarket, but none have come to fruition.

But the site, adjacent to Buzz Bingo, has been identified as Barnsley Council’s next major project after the completion of its flagship Glass Works scheme in 2021.

It forms part of the regeneration masterplan alongside the town centre work and plans for the Courthouse Digital Campus on County Way.

Currently owned by NPower, the Chronicle understands the vacant site is the subject of talks which could result in the council purchasing the land, something which has been scheduled to be discussed by ruling cabinet members next month.

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The site, earmarked as the ‘Eastern Gateway’ in the council’s regeneration documents, could also include a multi-storey car park and housing due to it being identified as an attractive location thanks to its close proximity to Barnsley Interchange and the town centre.

The car park would offset the loss of parking which would result from the redevelopment of the Courthouse.

OnSide, a firm behind a series of successful youth zones across the country, has been identified as the preferred provider of the proposed scheme.

Vandalism at play areas and multi-use games areas in parks across Barnsley cost the council more than £100,000 to rectify in the last five years and the plan to create a youth hub -which will be staffed by OnSide - has been hailed as a positive step by council leader Sir Steve Houghton.

“There’s nothing on the site at the minute other than a sub-station and although we don’t own it yet, the plans are absolutely brilliant,” he added.

“We hear a lot about youngsters engaging in antisocial behaviour and people say there’s nothing for them to do to keep them occupied, so this really could be the answer to that.

“There’s also the potential to create a multi-storey car park on the remainder of the land, as well as keeping some back for residential use.”

Although antisocial behaviour figures were reduced by 21 per cent in the town centre last year, police meetings remain inundated with requests from councillors and the public for new provision to be created to keep youngsters off the streets.

The Central Area Council entered into a contract with YMCA Barnsley, a group which is paid to commission after-school clubs, in order to provide sessions to youngsters aged eight to 14.

But reports of antisocial

behaviour have traditionally involved those older than the cut-off age.

“Antisocial behaviour has been noted in some key public spaces, including Peel Square and Mandela Gardens, which lessen the enjoyment by others,” a council regeneration report said.

“The new Market Gate pedestrian bridge (which will go across the railway line) will open up significant opportunities for not only investment in infrastructure, but also adjacent areas such as the NPower site and the Courthouse digital campus.

“A previous proposal for retail development on NPower’s land received consent in 2005 but has not been implemented.

“There is potential to create a vibrant new residential community.

“Creative design of housing and infrastructure could deliver up to 100 dwellings depending on the types adopted.

“The site lends itself to a series of uses, particularly at its northern end with a focus on community use and youth activities.”

Access and egress is expected to come via Schwabisch Gmund Way while a link from the interchange, through the site and on to the Metrodome has also been outlined.

“Providing an improved link between the site and the interchange will encourage movement on this route and enhance connectivity to the town centre,” the report added.

“There is a clear market interest in providing dwellings on the Eastern Gateway site, taking advantage of the proximity to the town centre and opportunity to integrate with existing residential communities.”