TRANSFORMATIVE plans to turn Barnsley’s landmark digital business district into a sustainable ‘urban village’ - featuring housing and a 386-space multi-storey car park - have been unveiled after years of speculation.
The Seam digital campus in the town centre - home to two Digital Media Centres and Barnsley College’s SciTech building - is already established as a place where people set-up and grow innovative tech businesses, explore new ideas, study and collaborate.
Plans for the County Way site - officially revealed on Tuesday via a planning application - propose to add a range of accessible, inclusive and inspiring community facilities for the benefit of all.
These will include an active travel hub for cyclists and walkers, a multi-storey car park with 40 electric vehicle charging points, new green public spaces and low-carbon housing development.
According to leaders behind the scheme, the development will ‘fully embrace pioneering digital and eco-friendly tech’ and actively seek to engage with entrepreneurs based at The Seam.
Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said: “It’s exciting to reach the planning permission stage.
“Cash from the Future High Streets Fund is helping us transform this site to bring forward the next phase of town centre development which will bring together people, learning, business and places to help grow more innovative, digital jobs and businesses.
“The current hub for the digital industries has seen great success, providing a home for businesses and entrepreneurs since its development nearly 15 years ago.
“DMC 02, which opened in the middle of the pandemic, has quickly grown and is now full and the new MakerLab is busy with people and businesses developing new digital products.
“The Seam builds on this great work already happening and this phase one development gives us an accessible and innovative urban village and digital cluster within the town centre where we can try new ideas, support positive change for Barnsley and build towards our 2030 ambitions for sustainability and growth.”
Following the development of a blueprint for the whole site in 2021, the Council has worked with sustainable design consultants Arcadis and BDP Architects to bring forward detailed plans for this first phase of development, which relates to the lower car park area of The Seam, including where the Covid-19 testing centre was pitched during the pandemic.
A public consultation was conducted in February and the planning application has now been submitted for an active travel hub, multi-storey car park and public areas.
Pending planning approval, work is due to start in spring 2023 and complete towards the end of 2024.
An outline planning application has also been submitted for the low carbon housing on site ahead of a procurement exercise to appoint a housing developer to bring forward these plans.
Sir Steve added: “Development of The Seam ties into a wider town centre regeneration strategy and is designed to build a better Barnsley experience for all, encourage economic growth, attract inward investment and reduce carbon emissions.
“New energy-efficient housing development will incorporate innovative ideas in low-carbon, and ultimately zero-carbon, design to support greener town centre living and, like the rest of the site, be a testbed for innovation.
“The network of open spaces and walkways, with integrated design and high-tech security features, is intended to allow people to enjoy the outdoors, see tech innovation in action, and share in community-based digital and creative projects and events.”