GRAND plans to create an ‘urban village’ in the heart of Barnsley town centre - touted as the council’s next key project following the completion of the nearby Glass Works - have been shelved due to rocketing costs.
Ruling council bosses axed the long-held plans for The Seam, on County Way, which had promised a 386-space multi-storey car park and an energy-efficient housing estate.
However, due to mounting costs - driven in part by the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine according to the council - main aspects of the plan will not come to fruition.
Following Wednesday’s behind-closed-doors meeting, a new plan for The Seam is being drawn up to better suit the funding available and meet the ‘changing needs of town centres’.
Plans now include public realm improvements to the standard seen at the nearby Glass Works, with enhanced lighting, CCTV, street furniture, and significant capacity for electric vehicle charging supported by solar power.
An urban green space is also on the cards, while improved cycle storage facilities will follow.
Cash from the Future High Streets Fund was secured for the site, but council leader Sir Steve Houghton confirmed rocketing costs for major projects - which have already resulted in the Glass Works, Market Gate Bridge and Penny Pie Park’s one-way road system going overbudget - have put paid to the plan.
He added: “We’ve taken a sensible look at our plans for The Seam given the huge rise in costs for major schemes.
“This has given us another chance to reflect on what we want to see in this part of the town centre, and come up with what I think is going to be a better scheme for businesses and local people.
“We’re going to focus our efforts on a really high-quality scheme of improvements on the lower part of the site, which will support the attractiveness of the site to businesses.”
Following the development of a blueprint for the whole site in 2021, the council worked with sustainable design consultants Arcadis and BDP Architects to bring forward detailed plans, with mocked-up images showing its potential new look.
The Chronicle understands the council will now reopen a public consultation exercise on the revisions.
Coun Robert Frost, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said: “We see The Seam as the heart of Barnsley’s future economy - these updated proposals will allow us to get moving on improvements we want to see as soon as possible.
“If we stand still, the borough’s economy will stand still.
“That’s why we’ve revisited our plans for The Seam and moving ahead with this first phase, while we continue to look at funding opportunities and partnerships for a second phase.”