DEVELOPERS behind a multi-million pound youth zone in the town centre have been urged to listen to local young people before forging ahead with the plans.

The site, to be built on the former electricity depot land alongside Schwabisch Gmund Way, is estimated to cost £7.4m - with the council paying £3.45m.

The authority will donate the money to a newly-established Barnsley Youth Zone charity and act as landlord to the site, developed and funded by charity OnSide.

Its ‘unique selling point’, according to plans, is a four-way partnership between the council, private sector - which is expected to invest heavily to ensure the project’s viability - local charities and young people.
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Gemma Gains, whose charity Anchor had been liaising with local youths for its own plans before the youth zone was announced, said many she spoke to weren’t even aware of the plans.

The plans have also come under fire from councillors who criticised the amount being spent when other council-run facilities have been neglected.

“Young people are worried this money also won’t be put to good use,’ said the 37-year-old, of Hopwood Street.

“We’ve seen that sometimes the council moves forward with plans without involving the people who need to be involved.

“It’s all well planning, but if it’s not going to be what the community wants, it’s a waste of time.”

Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson, added: “"It's really important that young people across the borough are able to access a range of these spaces in their local area, and it's great news that a local charity is working up plans to provide further facilities in Barnsley.

“Throughout the planning process of the youth zone development, the public, local charities and businesses will be given the opportunity to review and comment on proposals, and the final plans for the Youth Zone will be shaped through consultation.

“As part of this, a development group of young people will be established to take a lead role in shaping the facilities, activities, and resources that will be available.

“The development of the proposed Youth Zone is being supported by external funding, and we’re in active discussions with OnSide about the project.

“Though we’ve acquired the land which the proposed Youth Zone would be built on, at the moment the site is temporarily being used to facilitate the completion of the Glass Works scheme."