A MULTI-MILLION project which will result in a state-of-the-art hub for youngsters being built near the town centre is expected to receive official backing from Barnsley Council next month.

The former electricity depot, which lies between Schwabisch Gmund Way, Harborough Hill Road and Mottram Street, has been derelict for years but was identified as the council’s next major project after the completion of its flagship Glass Works scheme in 2021.

An indoor sports hall, climbing wall, gym, dance studio, sensory room, cafe and skate park could all be included, according to council documents.

They also show the £7.4m project has been delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but the site is now in the council’s ownership and cabinet members are set to discuss the next stages of the scheme.

Next month, they will have to approve the cost of the project, which will require £3.45m from the local authority.

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

The ‘youth zone’ will offer a wide range of sporting, artistic, cultural, physical and recreational activities for young people, according to a new report, and it will also offer opportunities for personal development and informal education to help raise aspirations and improve youngsters’ prospects.

A council report said: “The development aligns with the council’s corporate priorities ‘people achieving their potential’, ‘thriving and vibrant economy’ and ‘strong and resilient communities’ by providing young people with a safe, secure and aspirational environment to learn and develop new skills.

“A building specifically for young people would diversify the existing town centre offer, further adding vibrancy to the momentum generated by The Glass Works and Library @ the Lightbox, encouraging more people to visit the town, strengthening the visitor economy.( “Young people under the age of 20 make up 23.1 per cent of the population in Barnsley - 22.8 per cent of local children are known to be living in poverty.

“OnSide indicated they would expect the council to provide £3.45m of the £7.4m.

“Barnsley’s youth zone is an opportunity for the council to invest in a state-of-the-art youth facility and iconic ‘hub’ that will demonstrate a commitment to the health, wellbeing and development of all the existing and future generations of young people in the borough, while also complementing the wider regeneration of the town centre.”

Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for place, added: “The is very much still part of our plans and is approved in principle - it will be a great addition to Barnsley and become a real community hub for our young people.

“We’ve made a big step by acquiring the land the youth zone would be built on, and we’re in active discussions with OnSide about the project.”