WORK officially commenced on the site of a multi-million pound ‘one-of-a-kind’ youth zone in the town centre this week - and it’s set to be completed in just over 12 months’ time.

The venue - which will include a four-court sports hall, a rooftop 3G outdoor kick-pitch, gym, boxing and martial arts room, a recording studio, dance studio, sensory room and mentoring kitchen - will be built off Schwäbisch Gmund Way.

Mandy Carlson, born and bred in Cudworth, has been named as the OnSide youth zone’s chief executive - and she’s pleased a site like this will finally be brought to the town.

She told the Chronicle: “We’ve done all this work in Barnsley town centre but we need something that is for our young people.

“This is a journey for our young people to make them the best they can be.

“This new youth zone is integral to that.

“It’s somewhere they can go, learn and feel safe - it will build their confidence.

“We want people to stay, live and work here in Barnsley.”

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She added that whilst growing up in Barnsley there were many youth centres youngsters could use - but for children now there’s very little options.

“When I was young there were a lot of these things,” she added.

“It’s the same thing as a youth centre but just bigger.

“It’s really important and it’s something young people can call their own.

“It’s going to belong to them - it’ll be what they want, what they want it to look like and what they want to call it.”

In a special ceremony on Monday, 19-year-old Jess Jardine, 15-year-old James Bird and 14-year-old Ruby Wilkinson officially broke the ground on the site - seven years after the concept was first brought to the council.

The trio have been influential in ensuring the scheme is where it is today - and they’re hoping it’ll be beneficial for their peers.

Jess told the Chronicle: “There’s a lot of antisocial behaviour in the town so this will give them somewhere to go.

“It’ll provide the young people with some activities and something to do.

“We’ve been talking to people with OnSide.

“Their visions are good - this will be a great thing for the whole community.”

The youth zone will be the first in Yorkshire and bosses behind the scheme say the facilities are ‘world class’.

It will be open to young people aged between eight and 19, and up to 25 for those with additional needs, seven days a week.

OnSide expect the facility to be open between 9am and 10pm on weekends and school holidays, and between 4pm and 10pm during term time.

The scheme is estimated to cost £9.2m to build, funded by a combination of public and private sector contributions.

The council will pay £4.5m towards construction costs and online fashion giant ASOS - based in Great Houghton - will contribute £1.2m to the project as its first corporate sponsor, with OnSide committing to generating the remaining construction costs.

OnSide’s chief executive, Jamie Masraff, added: “This is a big moment for Barnsley’s youth zone.

“It’s been a fair few years in the making.

“We’re always keen to move as quickly as possible as we know young people lack activities and opportunities outside of school.

“Now we have the spade in the ground it’ll be really quick.

“We’ve got just over a year to build the youth zone and then only a couple of months later it’ll be open to the public.”

This youth zone will be the first in Yorkshire - much to the delight of Jamie and all those involved in the scheme.

“It’s going to be amazing for Barnsley - and there’s no surprise this town is leading the way,” he added.

“We’re going to have at least 4,000 members signed up in the first year - it’s supporting so many young people.

“It’s another high quality part of the town centre - it’s dedicated to young people.

“This is just for them.

“It’s a state-of-the-art building - people are going to want to come and be a part of this.”

Leader of Barnsley Council Sir Steve Houghton added: “This has been seven years in the making - from conception to putting the spades in the ground.

“We want world class in Barnsley, that’s our ambition.

“The youth zone is going to be world class.”