A HISTORIC building in the town centre will reopen as a jobs hub after its refurbishment was completed.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will occupy Wellington House, on Wellington Street, after Barnsley Council agreed to relinquish its lease on the Grade II-listed venue and subsequently awarded change-of-use planning permission for the work.
The vacant office space was last used as the temporary library, before the opening of Library @ the Lightbox in the new Glass Works complex last summer.
According to the council, the original plan was for the building’s lease to be terminated in June this year - contributing a total saving of £242,000 - but the decision to vacate was fast-tracked following cabinet members’ approval.
It also saved the local authority of spending about £220,000 in a ‘dilapidations claim’, and paying six months of rates.
A statement said: “The existing building is part of the former The Co-op Jewellers premises, and is Grade II-listed.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant rise in unemployment and putting social distancing measures in place have meant in order to continue to effectively support the community with the services it provides, the DWP is, therefore, expanding to create a further Jobcentre branch to help meet the demand of the economic climate.
“The site is in close proximity to the existing centre, on Peel Street, making it a suitable, easy to find and familiar location for the customers that will be using the services.
“Given its location and proximity to bus stops and Barnsley Interchange, it is likely the location of Wellington House will encourage significantly more trips by sustainable transport modes.
“DWP is working at pace to get as many of these new Jobcentres branches in place as soon as possible to help assist the economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The longer people are out of work for the harder it is to return increasing the number of Jobcentres and work coaches will help to provide immediate support to get people back on their feet and into a job more quickly.
About 25 employees will be based at Wellington House, which is also home to the council’s adult education department and Barnsley’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB).
A spokesperson for FI Real Estate Management - the firm behind its refurb - added: “The DWP’s requirements were complex and specific so we’re delighted to have been able to accommodate their needs so swiftly and provide the department’s teams with the space and facilities they need to operate successfully.
“The occupation by the DWP will complement the adult education and CAB services that will continue to operate from this site until 2026.”