AS we bid farewell to 2023, we can begin to look forward to next year and all the exciting things in store across the borough.

There’s still plenty to look forward to, from watching our own John Stones in the European Championships and even a new change to the Chronicle’s popular Proud of Barnsley awards.

This past year saw Magnum P.I star Tom Selleck’s roots linked back to our wonderful town - who knows which famous movie star will find out their ancestors are from Kendray this year?

With this in mind, we take a look at the what the future could hold for Barnsley this year.

Alhambra Centre

Barnsley Council announced last September that it had completed its takeover of the Alhambra Shopping Centre - after a £4.5m deal was struck in order to secure its long-term future.

Receivers Avison Young were appointed at the venue - on Cheapside in the heart of Barnsley town centre - in order to find a new buyer in 2021.

Having opened in August 1991 when it was known as The Mall, a £10.5m price tag was slapped on it when news broke of its sale but the Chronicle can reveal a £4.5m sum was agreed upon.

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The cash - which will solely come from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) - will also be supported with future funding from the same body should any interior remodelling be needed.

Work is likely to start this year into its future, and the Chronicle understands that although its current retail offering will remain intact - there will be a mixed-use approach with a focus on health and wellbeing.

Certainly one to keep an eye on...

Elsecar Heritage Centre

The former site of Elsecar Ironworks is set to be transformed after long-awaited £25m plans for a new heritage railway and rail college.

The leader of Barnsley Council, Sir Steve Houghton, said he wants to make the site an area which will ‘thrive long into the future’.

Included in the ancient monument’s plans, which have taken a number of years to be drawn up, include a new heritage railway, a rail college, outdoor events, and more.

The railway destination will include a reconstructed 1849 Fitzwilliam locomotive powered by sustainable fuels, whilst the college will train almost 500 students every year.

Funding options are currently being explored by the council, with the development expected to cost around £25m.

It may be progressed in stages as funding becomes available.

It’s hoped that the scheme will ensure that Elsecar will be used as a national visitor destination in the coming years.

It may take a little while longer to complete than this year, but work to make the area even better than it already is is certainly going to kickstart in the coming months.

Glass Works filling - PD091869

It’s been quite the year for Barnsley Council’s multi-million pound regeneration scheme.

They brought in the Botanist, and there’s plenty of optimism that they’ll be able to fill the rest of the units which currently sit vacant in the Glass Works.

It’s an impressive venture, and it’s completely turned around the heart of the town centre.

Footfall figures have been higher than ever and thousands of people turned out to the Barnsley Bright Nights Festival at the end of November.

But the occupancy rate for the town centre sits at 86 per cent - and the Glass Works’ rate sits at 88 per cent.

There’s still a little bit more to do to ensure the area can remain at its best - but with other local authorities looking at Barnsley in awe, it seems the town centre is only ever going to get better.

Proud of Barnsley change

Last year’s Proud of Barnsley awards broke all the records...

It was the first time that the Sir Michael Parkinson Special Recognition Award was presented by Sir Michael’s son, Mike, who told the audience that Barnsley always had a special place in his father’s heart.

He even said that the inaugural winner artist Ashley Jackson was someone his dad would have liked the award to go to.

Around 550 people packed into the Metrodome to witness the spectacle of the year - and the Chronicle are looking to go one better this year.

But there’s going to be a twist.

For the first time ever, the winners won’t just be selected by a judging panel.

You, the public, are now able to have your say.

The wonderfully put together videos will be shared online in the run-up to the event so residents can see how brilliant our town really is.

The vote will be split 50/50 between the public and the judges, and I for one cannot wait to see what great things local people will do over the following year.

And who knows who this year’s Sir Michael Parkinson Award recipient could be?

Old Mill Lane

Just two lanes on one of the main routes into the town centre will be open for almost three months once work starts on long-awaited plans for Barnsley.

The application, submitted on behalf of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), seeks to widen Old Mill Lane and increase its current three lanes to five.

This would include a new bus lane, cycle paths, the relocation of a bus shelter, the removal of Asda’s recycling centre and Kaye Pepper’s memorial, who died on July 13, 1996.

The new proposals, which were revealed two years ago, suggest the widening of the highway to include four lanes and a separate bus lane - five in total.

Once the work begins, the three lanes will be cut to two for ten weeks - and then after 17 weeks there will be three lanes open once again.

John Stones to Euros

Penistone-born Stones is one of the best central defenders in the world.

Having just come off the back of winning the treble with the unstoppable Manchester City last season, the former Barnsley youth product will be looking to get his hands on one of the few accolades that have defied him in his career so far - international glory.

Gareth Southgate’s side are in the same group as ????? but they’ll be looking to make it to the final of the European Championship’s for the second consecutive competition.

Other former Barnsley stars such as Harry Maguire, Kieran Trippier and Ivan Toney will all also be looking to stake a claim in Southgate’s squad.

Could Stones be the first local lad to win an international trophy?

We’ll have to wait until the summer to find out.

Barnsley’s League One promotion push

Neill Collins’ Barnsley side are still in the hunt for promotion to the Championship.

It’s likely to be through the play-offs - but the Reds will be hoping they can go one better than last time out.

No one will forget last season’s final against Sheffield Wednesday - and the Reds could have been playing football in the second division of English football had it not been for a last gasp Josh Windass winner for the Owls.

Admittedly, there’s not as much excitement around the club as there was last year - but the Reds are still in with a fighting chance of making it out of the third tier at the second time of asking.

But this month will be key - as can always be said about the January transfer window.

The club may seem like it’s in disarray, but as long as they don’t go on a selling spree as they have done in previous years Barnsley will undoubtedly be fighting for a chance to make it to Wembley for two successive years.