COSTLY engineering work which will see an essential network of tunnels built underneath Barnsley town centre’s Glass Works regeneration to cope with excess run-off water is set to begin.

Yorkshire Water announced it has appointed contractor Barhale to complete the sewer diversion, which will see a tunnel boring machine redesign Barnsley’s underground system from Kendray Street.

Sough Dyke, a culverted watercourse passing through the town centre, also runs under parts of the Glass Works complex and during periods of heavy rainfall, there is a risk that overtopping could occur if the culvert was at full capacity, thus restricting the discharge of the watercourse.

The ‘hemmed in’ aspect of the regeneration - situated between the dyke and a railway line - has been restrictive for any remedial work to be carried out below road surface and the watercourse caused issues with the town centre’s new library’s foundations, delaying its opening.

The sewer work is said to be critical to the success of the £200m scheme’s completion, which includes 25 new retail units, a 13-screen Cineworld, Superbowl UK, seven restaurants and cafes, a public square and a 500-plus space car park.

Joe Fisher, project manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “This is a significant project for Barnsley and we’re pleased to be playing our part by relocating the sewer network in the area.

“We are collaborating with Barhale to carry out the work at Kendray Street to use the expertise of both companies to overcome the challenges the site poses.”

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A drainage report identified that surface water from the existing site is collected from roofs and pavements and discharged directly to Sough Dyke’s culvert and Yorkshire Water sewers.

Project manager Nick Smith added: “Due to the constraints of the location, we will use a tunnel boring machine to install the new concrete sewer.

“Our approach enables the development construction to continue at the same time reducing some of the logistical challenges and means we can keep costs down and complete more quickly.

Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for place, said: “The closure of Kendray Street is necessary so work on the Glass Works can progress. More importantly, the closure will support the scheme to be completed on time.

“Not only will the closure allow the new public square to be developed - which will help make our town centre safe and welcoming - but it will support essential work to divert the sewer around Cineworld to commence.

“If we don’t close Kendray Street at this point, the construction programme will be slower at this crucial time as the scheme continues to recover from the Covid-19 lockdown period.

“The alternative walking route from the interchange - up Midland Street and along Eldon Street - is only a slightly longer route, but we understand any form of disruption isn’t ideal. However, the long term benefits will be felt by all.

“The Glass Works is already having a huge, positive impact. There are more and more reasons to visit Barnsley town centre as we edge towards the opening of the scheme next year.”

Once the sewer diversion works are completed, construction will begin on the new Market Gate Bridge while public realm improvements will take place on Midland Street.