Barnsley’s bid for up to £25m of government funding is shaping up, and could see Goldthorpe become a ‘catalyst’ for growth at the heart of the Dearne Valley by connecting it with neighbouring towns over a five-year period.
The cash comes from the government’s Towns Fund initiative, the bid for which was shaped by public consultation earlier this year and led to the newly-formed Goldthorpe Town Board being established as a central planning group.
As one of 101 towns across the country eligible for the fund, Goldthorpe has been given access to £500,000 of immediate investment for ‘accelerated projects’ - details of which were presented to Monday’s meeting of the Dearne Area Council by the local authority’s head of economic development, Paul Clifford.
The early funding is meant as a primer for further investment through the £3.6bn Towns Fund, itself aimed by the government at ‘decentralising’ funding and decisions away from Whitehall and into local communities.
Half of the £500,000 has been allocated towards purchasing a property for redevelopment on the high street - with local councillors earmarking the derelict Horse and Groom pub as a priority site that could make way for a town square.
The town’s embankment project, at the former railway cuttings site on Barnsley Road, is set to see £93,600 for improvements to footpaths and installation of handrails, as well as security cameras.
A green active travel route at nearby Phoenix Park, Thurnscoe - created in partnership with charity the Land Trust - is listed as receiving £60,400.
Relocation of the town’s existing market is set to cost £60,000, and the creation of a community orchard will be given £36,000.
Housing opportunities, including retrofitting existing properties, have also been identified, while links to employment land to the town’s western edge will be strengthened.
“Goldthorpe can act as a growth catalyst for the wider Dearne Valley, by focusing on a number of different initiatives,” said Paul.
“The overall aspiration is to work together to create a thriving community where people can choose to live, invest and excel.
“Even though it’s the Goldthorpe Investment Plan, and the government have an aspiration to see the majority of work focus on Goldthorpe, there’s a recognition that Thurnscoe, Bolton and Goldthorpe are three very closely interlinked settlements.
“If there’s going to be growth activity taking place in this area, then it needs to cover all three.”
If successful, these projects will be expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
It’s also planned to make the area of Goldthorpe near the Dearne Playhouse Theatre a community hub, alongside the youth centre already in place - something which area council chairman Coun May Noble warned could increase reports of antisocial behaviour that already plague the area.
Coun Noble said she ‘welcomed’ the plans, but added: “I worry about what I would call a playground when we do get quite a lot of antisocial behaviour around the Playhouse.
“I welcome everything else in the report in terms of putting some money into the area and bringing it up to the 21st century.”
Coun Alan Gardiner added the investment could make the area a ‘second Electronic Village’ after that scheme’s success in Thurnscoe.
The Town Board - chaired by Big Local member Derek Bramham and which local MP John Healey is involved in - must submit its investment plan to the government by December 11.