AMBITIOUS plans to turn Elsecar into a state-of-the-art tourist destination will not be put on hold despite the government refusing to hand out Levelling Up funding, it has been revealed.

Earlier this year, the town centre received a total of £10.2m in funding from the government to complete a number of projects.

However, the second application for £16m - titled Elsecar Forging Ahead - was rejected by the government.

A new 3,140 square metre waterfront suite of buildings was mooted for a brownfield site next to the canal at Elsecar, with 40 workshops and a new cafe also planned.

Coun Tim Shepherd, who represents the Hoyland Milton ward, said: “The council’s application for the heritage centre would have given a welcome boost to our already impressive cultural offer, but more importantly would have been the skills and economic uplift arising from the scheme.

”As we all know the bid was unsuccessful and this served to underline that the government’s beauty contest approach to levelling up and securing capital investment to be woefully inadequate.

”I will continue to push for this investment and would wish to ask the cabinet spokesperson if this is an ambition shared by him and what plans there are to secure such investment in?”

Coun Robert Frost, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said that the council are already speaking with investors - and have secured some funding to make their plans a reality.

“Elsecar has gone from strength-to-strength as a visitor destination in recent years - with record visitor numbers, increasing businesses and jobs on the site and an events programme showcasing hundreds of small businesses every year,” he said.

“The heritage in the village is now recognised to be of national importance too.

“We look forward to engaging on people on the details of these proposals over the summer.”

Coun Frost admitted that the government’s decision to not award the plans was frustrating - but he’s still ‘determined’ to make their plans work.

“Ambitious proposals for the former ironworks in Elsecar were the focus of our bid for Levelling Up - a bid which was unfortunately unsuccessful,” he added.

“It would have meant the establishment of a 21st century heritage railway Elsecar with a national tourism appeal.

“Advanced engineering workshops at the forefront of our region’s economy and a new outdoor arena set against the backdrop of our magnificent glass wall at the Elsecar Ironworks.

“More information about our vision will be shared over the summer as we invite elected members, local communities and visitors to come to Elsecar and help shape what it can become.

“We’re determined to make the vision a reality.

“It will take hard work and we’ll need to attract major investment - but we are committed to try and make this happen.”