A SCHEME to increase the number of car parking spaces as a direct result of the town centre’s ongoing regeneration is set to be approved by Barnsley Council’s ruling cabinet members next week.

The Glass Works complex, the newly-opened Library @ the Lightbox and forthcoming plans for a so-called ‘digital campus’ on County Way and the Eastern Gateway scheme between Schwabisch Gmund Way, Harborough Hill Road and Mottram Street will result in more spaces being required, according to a report.

Latest footfall figures for the town centre are at 6.7m per year, with an average of about 560,000 visitors per month, according to the council.

The digital campus plan, which involves building on the Courthouse’s 838-space car park, has led bosses to look at increasing car parking elsewhere, with plans for a multi-storey in place at the Eastern Gateway site.

A report, which is due to be discussed at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, said: “Parking is key to Barnsley achieving its potential and it must be adaptable, innovative, customer-focused, able to meet growing demand and change expectations without compromising our long-term environmental and wider transport aspirations.

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“The Glass Works is forecast to increase demand for parking by more than 480 spaces and footfall by 11 per cent, or about 100,000 more visitors per month.

“Barnsley is well-placed to connect people and businesses to new and existing market places via capitalising on its location.

“Development of the digital campus on County Way will facilitate the creation of a new multi-storey car park and ensure capacity meets peak demand.

“Provisional data shows a 2018 population of 245,200 with 111,400 households. A total of 136,379 vehicles are registered in the borough, of which only 279 were electric.

“Projections show that the population will have grown by almost 12,000 upon completion, with 4,600 more households and 13,000 more vehicles.”

Cabinet members are expected to approve the town centre’s parking strategy, which runs until 2025, and includes creating more charging points for electric vehicles - boosting the current number of five to 45.

David Shepherd, service director for regeneration and culture, told the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday that parking provision was a ‘pressing issue’.

“While car parks are important in the town centre’s regeneration, we’re also working alongside Sheffield City Region and Transport for the North for more investment in our railways and bus services.

“We realise the importance of shoppers’ accessibility and part of that is car parking, but we want to give them choices and that means giving them more routes in.

“In terms of electric vehicles, I accept there are issues which are yet to emerge with regards to their longevity but they’re better than burning petrol or diesel, so charging points will be included.

“It’s not the be all and end all, but it’s a step in the right direction.”