A MULTI-MILLION pound project which will see a hub created to nurture musical talent in Barnsley town centre has taken a step closer - after a contract went out for tender which could see work start as soon as September.

The Northern Academy for Vocal Excellence (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.

Having been unoccupied for a decade, the £3.1m contract - which is set to begin at the end of the summer and end in May 2025 - is now live and open to interested parties who specialise in building and roofing work.

When complete, it will be home to the world-famous, 400-strong Barnsley Youth Choir whose leaders will also engage with other organisations to provide a hub for singing regionally and nationally.

The application includes refurbishing the site and the erection of a detached storage building at Westgate House.

A statement from the choir said: “The choir now needs a bespoke centre to realise ambitious plans to develop Barnsley as a centre for singing excellence.

“This venue will have a dramatic impact on the quality of the provision we are able to offer, providing opportunities to expand, grow and work in a much more dynamic way.

“During the last four years the choir and its leaders have carefully considered the opportunities and risks of owning and running a venue.

“BYC is now convinced that it has the capacity, vision and drive to make this a success.

“Early pre-design engagement with choir members, volunteers and other key stakeholders has already taken place, and ongoing community engagement will be vital in shaping the project.

“Barnsley Council received government funding via the ‘Levelling Up Fund’ after they supported BYC with a bid to develop the NAVE.

“We have been working closely with the council and the team who will realise this exciting vision and the next few months will be exciting ones as we anticipate an intense period working with architects and the design team to ensure that the building is realised by March 2025.

“Thirty-three NAVE ambassadors have been selected with a remit to be a conduit for all nine choirs at BYC, ensuring that children remain at the heart of decision-making and consultation processes, with regular meetings and workshops scheduled.

“It’s a venue that could have an extraordinary impact on the choir and the Barnsley community more widely and we are indebted to so many in the council for sharing our level of ambition for young people in the town.

“The vision is that it will develop a national and international profile for excellence and engage with outstanding partners.”