A MAJOR milestone in Barnsley town centre’s regeneration has been reached ahead of its much-anticipated opening later this year.

The glazing of two new glass-roofed boulevards was completed this month at The Glass Works, the £200m leisure and shopping development.

The scheme is one of the only leisure and shopping destinations under construction in the country and will feature a 13-screen Cineworld with large-scale 4DX screen, 25 new shops, seven new family restaurants and a Superbowl UK.

Completion of the glazing marks the end of a tumultuous year at the development, which saw workers temporarily laid off during the first coronavirus-enforced lockdown in March.

However, work soon resumed and Barnsley Council remain on course for its opening at the end of next summer.

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Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesman, said: “When driving into Barnsley you can already see the skyline has changed so much thanks to this project and it’s a mark of how far on The Glass Works now is.

“It’s easy to talk about something, but actually seeing it has a much bigger impact and people can really see how the development is taking shape. It’s exciting for everyone.

“This will attract more people more often for years to come into our town centre.

“I, like thousands of others across the borough, can’t wait to see it completed and open next September - ready for people to come and watch films, go bowling, eat, drink, shop and rediscover our town centre.”

The centre is 60 per cent let with shoe retailer Deichmann becoming the latest store to open its doors after welcoming shoppers earlier this month.

Once completed, the project will also see a new public square with an attractive water feature created alongside a multi-story car park.

Several major brands have already signed up including Next, Sports Direct, USC, TK Maxx, local independent restaurant MEET and Nando’s.

JD Sports, Coffee Boy and Falco Lounge are already open and trading.

Coun Cheetham added: “It’s all part of the long-term aim to revitalise Barnsley town centre, with phase one already completed which saw the opening of a thriving refurbished market, state-of-the-art Library @ the Lightbox and Market Kitchen along with an improved public realm.

The development is also home to around 180 rooftop photo-voltaic cells, similar to solar panels, to generate electricity.

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: “This is not just another shopping centre, it’s something much more ambitious, especially given the mix between leisure and shopping.

“We firmly believe the flexibility of the scheme is what the high street needs, what Barnsley needs and can strengthen the rest of the town centre.

“It’s important that our whole town centre is included in our development plans. The aim is to offer people even more reasons to come to Barnsley as a whole and tap into those major markets that aren’t currently visiting.

“Investing approximately £200m into our town centre means we’re creating a thriving, bustling, family-friendly high street that people can visit at any time, day or night.

“Even though there’s no escaping that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, which may impact the overall cost of the scheme as we move forward, we’re committed now more than ever to The Glass Works and our town centre regeneration.

“When the scheme opens, we’ll be looking at a thriving market town which will offer more than it ever has before.”