A MAJOR retailer has committed to Barnsley town centre’s Glass Works scheme by signing a 15-year lease - just weeks after the council warned coronavirus has had a ‘significant’ impact on the regeneration scheme.

TK Maxx will take a two-floor, 21,951sq ft unit opposite Cineworld.

The signing marks a key milestone in the project, with the retailer letting the scheme’s final mid-size unit, joining Next, Sports Direct, USC and the already-open JD Sports.

Alex Hyams, leasing manager for Queensberry - the firm behind the regeneration - said: “We’re delighted to secure TK Maxx for the Glass Works.

“It’s a tremendous addition to the scheme and marks a milestone - at a generally difficult time TK Maxx committing to a store in a prime retail position opposite Cineworld on a 15-year lease is great news and illustrates the strength of the scheme.

“We’re committed to attracting more exciting offers to the town despite the issues faced by the wider economy, and we’ll be working hard alongside Barnsley Council to achieve this over the months ahead.”

Confirmed food operators include Nando’s, Muffin Break and local independent restaurant MEET - all of which will join Falco Lounge and Coffee Boy, along with the independent food vendors inside Market Kitchen.

Cineworld and Superbowl UK - which will include laser quest, bowling and soft play - are the main leisure anchors of the project.

Kevin Frost, property director at Cineworld, said: “We’re excited to be bringing Cineworld to the Glass Works.

“The development is changing the face of Barnsley town centre and really lends itself to one of our next generation multiplex cinemas - and that’s clear from the work that’s been completed on site so far.

“Cineworld Barnsley will boast 13 screens with over 2,000 seats.

“It will also feature the very latest digital surround sound systems with curved wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screens, stadia seating and plenty of leg room.

“The work on site is progressing well and we can’t wait to open next year.”

A cabinet report into the impacts warned some prospective operators could either delay or completely shelve their commitment to the project, so TK Maxx’s signing has been welcomed by the council.

Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesman for place, said: “We’re committed to the Glass Works now more than ever, and it’s fantastic news that we’ve welcomed another national retailer to the scheme in TK Maxx, particularly during this challenging time.

“The new store will be impressive, set over two floors and in a prime retail position opposite Cineworld.

“There’s no denying that the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the UK high street and that’s no different in Barnsley.

“However, as the town centre continues to reopen - with our great selection of bars and restaurants next in line to open their doors - we hope we’ll pick back up on our pre-pandemic momentum.

“The ongoing success of our town centre will be key as our economic recovery progresses. The Glass Works will play an important part in our jobs-led recovery, with the project estimated to deliver 1,100 jobs by 2025.

“I’d like to encourage the people of Barnsley to shop in the town centre and support our local economy. It’s important now more than ever to spend your money locally and keep Barnsley moving as we come through this pandemic.”