A MULTI-MILLION pound scheme to boost employment and transport links across Barnsley has been submitted to the government for approval having been agreed by the Sheffield City Region this week.

Key schemes including Barnsley town centre’s ‘digital campus’, the Dearne Valley corridor and junction 36 of the M1 are included in the plan, which forms the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) bid.

The bid, which could result in about £100m in funding, focuses on the three large areas which could most benefit from significant improvements across rail, public transport and active travel schemes with a view to encouraging business growth in the town.

The aim is to reduce journey times, cut congestion, improve punctuality and reliability, and bring about a wide range of benefits associated with active travel, such as improved health and wellbeing.

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region and MP for Barnsley Central, said: “It’s critical that we improve the transport system in our region to create better access to major employment sites, reduce congestion, better integrate different modes of transport and make our transport network fit for the 21st century.

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“That’s why it’s so important that we get this bid right and why we’ve been working closely with partners across South Yorkshire to ensure that it has real potential to drive transformational change for our communities.

“Improving our transport links is crucial for growing our economy, linking residents and businesses to our internationally-significant assets in areas such as advanced manufacturing, health and wellbeing, and engineering.

“I now look forward to working with the Department for Transport as we develop our detailed plans.”

Off junction 36, better links are being sought to entice businesses to the area, while proposals to create a digital hub for creative businesses in Barnsley town centre are afoot in order to allow new space on County Way.

The current Digital Media Centre is at capacity, so the second phase will enable the venue to become home to businesses of the future, also delivering up to 94 new full-time jobs, while future plans include a three-star hotel on the site - currently the Courthouse car park.

In the Dearne Valley, plans include bus lanes and junction improvements on the A61; a rapid transit bus scheme between Barnsley and Doncaster; bus priority measures on the A630; improved access between Mexborough town centre and the rail station and active travel improvements between Barnsley and Rotherham town centres and the Dearne Valley.

“Funding has helped regenerate the interchange, the Experience Barnsley museum, The Civic, the Digital Media Centre, and created jobs and businesses in the Dearne Valley.

“It has also helped people in Barnsley get into work and set up their own businesses.

“For too long we’ve been reliant on a drip-feed of funding streams, often with rules and requirements attached that limit what we can do and constrain local bottom up solutions.

“To build on the change underway in Barnsley we need the government to make it clear just how much money will be available and how local areas will be able to influence on what and where it is invested.

“I am in a unique position as Mayor of the Sheffield City Region and also MP for Barnsley Central.

“I have seen first-hand what local areas can do when they come together to drive economic growth.

“But I’ve also seen how limited and constrained they are by the powers and resources available to them.

“By investing in developments such as these we will create jobs, attract investment, boost our tourism offer and also continue our strong track record in building places where people want to live, work and play,” he told the Chronicle.