Media building to be cornerstone of revival

Paul Whitehouse PLANS for a landmark building which should form a cornerstone of the regeneration of Barnsley town centre have been revealed.

The district council is now to submit a planning application for the Barnsley Digital Media Centre and it is anticipated that work on the development could start in February next year.

The complex is intended to house the modern digital industries Barnsley Council hopes will breathe new life into area's economy.

It has attracted almost 10m in regeneration grants from Yorkshire Forward and Objective 1, with Barnsley Council taking responsibility for developing the centre.

The accommodation will include 113 separate business units, meeting rooms and conference facilities. It has been designed to try to provide space for existing and new businesses.

The structure has been designed by Bauman Lyons Architects and spokeswoman Irena Bauman said: "The DMC signifies the strong drive in Barnsley to create new industries and to raise the quality of new developments."

The building is planned to occupy part of the Court House carpark site, off Eastgate, and the three-storey building should have views across the Dearne Valley.

If the plans are approved, three separate blocks will be connected by an atrium and the plan is to use a combination of glass and stone facades which blend with the existing architecture of the area but also create a modern image.

Lost car parking will be replaced when other land nearby is made available.

Some buildings which are currently disused will be demolished to create new parking facilities and work on that part of the project is expected to start next month.

The DMC is part of a wider scheme to regenerate the town, called Remaking Barnsley, which is aimed at modernising the town.

The area's main industry was coal mining but that ended with the closure of the town's last collieries in the early 1990s and since then the area has struggled to attract new high-quality employment.

An aim of the DMC is to bring new prosperity into the area by capitalising on an expanding industry.

The centre is just one of several schemes already progressing under the banner of Remaking Barnsley.

Work has just started on a new transport interchange and the retail area of the town centre is to be transformed with the creation of a new markets complex.

That scheme ran into trouble earlier this year when a financial backer pulled out, but a replacement investor has now been found and the project is back on target.

Planning permission has also been approved for a prestigious apartments complex off Shambles Street which is expected to form a "gateway" to the town centre from the Western Relief Road.

It is also expected that Barnsley's "halo", a light which will shine into the night sky, should be in place by the end of the year.

That is planned as a symbolic marker for the town, and it should be visible from a long distance when it is switched on.