BARNSLEY will finally receive more than £10m in so-called ‘levelling up’ cash from the government - paving the way for a host of town centre projects to pick up pace.
The council had been unsuccessful in its previous Levelling Up Fund applications but revealed yesterday that its second-round bid - titled Barnsley Futures - was approved by ministers.
Cash will be used to fund an activity park next to the town’s forthcoming youth zone off Schwabisch Gmund Way, a wellbeing hub based at YMCA on Blucher Street and the creation of the Northern Academy for Vocal Excellence (NAVE), which will become a permanent home for Barnsley Youth Choir.
The NAVE will bring the council’s former Computer Centre on the corner of St Mary’s Place and Westgate - which was built in 1879 and was previously the town’s courthouse until 1970 when Barnsley Magistrates’ Court opened - back into use.
There will also be a contribution to the major project to refurbish the Civic to secure its future and extend its reach, bringing into use parts of the building not used for many years so it can work with and attract new audiences, particularly young people under 30.
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis said: “As the Parliamentary sponsor of our Levelling Up Fund bid, I am of course very pleased that we have secured this money from government.
“A huge amount of credit has to go to Barnsley Council, who worked tirelessly in developing an exceptional bid which will continue the positive transformation of our town centre.
“All three components of this bid - the NAVE, the youth zone and the Civic - will benefit our entire borough and I am proud of the ambition that the council has shown to get this funding over the line.
“It is no secret that in recent years it has been incredibly difficult to secure funding from central government for our borough - rather like getting blood out of a stone - which only underlines what a fantastic achievement the announcement is for Barnsley.”
Barnsley - the only place in South Yorkshire to miss out on cash in the first round of funding - reversed its fortunes in round two as bids from Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield were rejected this time round.
Leader of Barnsley Council, Coun Sir Steve Houghton, added: “We truly believe it’s time to believe in the possibilities of Barnsley, to look to the future with excitement and optimism, so we’re very pleased that the government has listened to our call for Levelling Up Fund investment in Barnsley.
“We’re already incredibly proud of our fantastic town centre and this investment gives us a brilliant opportunity to offer even more opportunities and reasons to visit, particularly for our young people.
“We’re using this funding to improve the educational, wellbeing and health outcomes of Barnsley’s young people, and to improve cultural engagement for everyone through making further improvements to the Civic.
“That’s because Barnsley’s a place that fosters and grows ambition, enabling everyone to be the best they can be.”
Anthony Baker, the Civic’s chief executive, praised the announcement.
“We are delighted to hear that Barnsley has been successful in securing funding from the bid.
“This investment will help Barnsley Civic achieve our ambition to provide high quality, relevant and resonant cultural and creative experiences that the people of Barnsley deserve.”