Responding to questions or topics of concern.
FUNDING & VALUE
What will the cost of the development be?
We are at the early stage of design at the moment and currently we are looking at a scheme value of approximately £23m for Phase 1 (the focus of this consultation), This cost covers, Council resources to support the project, the design team, cost consultants, site investigations, planning submission and build costs. As we are at an early stage in the design process, we have not had the results of site investigations and have not appointed a contractor at this stage, so these costs are subject to change.
How is the scheme being funded?
The scheme will be funded using a combination of Central Government Future High street Funding (£11.3M), Council funding and wider funding options are being explored.
Will the scheme support Business Growth?
The Seam is already acting as a catalyst to digital and creative business growth with a range of programmes being delivered on site including Team SY and three rounds of the highly successful IOT Engine (Internet of Things) accelerator programme. The Digital Media Centre is at the forefront of national and international networks developing ‘Tech Towns’, and our award-winning Enterprising Barnsley business support service based at the DMC has seen hundreds of businesses start and thrive. The site is also home to Barnsley College’s Sci-Tech centre, developing new talent. The Seam proposals build on these successes to create a truly digital campus providing more and better jobs.
When will this be delivered?
Work is planned to commence on site in 2023 to deliver the new multi-storey car park (MSCP) and active travel hub, although this is still subject to planning approval. This will include public realm around the setting of the active travel hub and entrance to the site from Regent Street. The work is currently planned to conclude late summer 2024, although this is subject to change once a construction contractor is appointed.
The larger central greenspace and connecting spine route and stairs/ramp to the upper level will come forward as part of the residential planned for plots 1&2.
What is the current stage of the scheme?
The scheme has currently been designed to RIBA stage 2, but this project is progressing at pace, which is why we were keen to get people’s views and opinions on the scheme. The next stage is to review the consultation and feed in any required design changes or considerations before progressing the planning application for the site.
How will the reduction in car parking be managed?
The reduction in spaces on the Seam have been factored into the wider parking strategy for the Town centre. The Seam will reduce by approx. 450 spaces during construction of the MSCP and data has been gathered to ensure that this reduction can be managed through re-directing people to vacant spaces in the upper level and other town centre car parks.
We have also recently delivered an additional new 500 space multi story car park as part of the Glassworks development. Existing parking data evidences that there is sufficient capacity within our wider Town Centre car parking facilities.
Why are you looking at a car-reduced development?
We want to create a campus feel on the site, ensuring it is safe and pleasant for people to enjoy the space, where pedestrians can move freely.
Barnsley has also committed to being a zero-carbon borough in 2045 and, as part of this, we actively encourage modal shift to active travel via walking, cycling and use of the nearby public transport.
The site is also located adjacent to the transport interchange and is close to town centre shops and facilities, making it a highly sustainable location. Residential developers will be asked to consider the sustainable location and the possibility of facilities such as electric vehicle car clubs.
Will the new car park be safe?
The new multi-story car park will be built to “park mark plus” standards. To achieve this award, car parks must demonstrate that measures are in place to ensure the safety of people and vehicles. It will be fully secured with access/egress requiring a valid ticket. We are also consulting on further safety features, making the most of smart technology.
The pedestrian route to the car park will be along County way initially, which is a well-lit route. Once the residential development comes forward on the lower deck, an additional route will be introduced through the scheme.
I am concerned that the blue badge spaces in the new MSCP are now further from the town centre. Where should I park?
The Glass Works car park now offers new, more convenient blue badge spaces that give direct access to town centre shopping and businesses and high quality, accessible public space. There will also be blue badge spaces in the new MSCP which will be most convenient for users and visitors to the Seam.
Will there be enough capacity in the car park when football matches are on?
Data shows there’s enough capacity throughout the wider Town Centre car parks to manage football home game volumes. New electronic sign posting of vacant spaces around the town will assist people to find available spaces.
What other options are there for evening parking for events?
The Glassworks car park is 24-hour, secure parking. Visitors come straight out of the car park and into the new public boulevard & square. The Market Gate car park will also be directly accessed from the main square, over the new pedestrian footbridge planned to open by late summer 2023.
What other car parks are there in Barnsley town centre without height barriers?
The only BMBC managed car parks with height barriers are the Glasswork Car Park and the proposed MSCP on the Seam.
I would like to see further data on car parking capacity?
Occupancy was recorded across all council car parks over a 15-week period from 27/9/21 to 18/12/21.
Weekdays – commuter focused
There was an average of 386 commuter spaces and 73 retail and leisure spaces (shopper) occupied.
Across the wider council parking network on weekdays there was an average of 809 empty shopper spaces and 606 commuter spaces, demonstrating plenty of capacity across the wider network. There are also an average of 20 spaces available at Berneslai close and 30 at Churchfields, the next nearest commuter and all-day parking to the Seam.
Weekends – shopper focused
There was an average of 434 commuter spaces and 142 retail and leisure spaces (shopper) occupied.
Across the wider council parking network on weekends there was an average of 509 empty shopper spaces and 595 commuter spaces, demonstrating plenty of capacity across the wider network. There are also an average of 20 spaces available at Berneslai close and 30 at Churchfields, the next nearest all day parking to the Seam.
ACTIVE TRAVEL HUB
Will the Active Travel Hub replace the current one in the bus station?
Yes, the new ATH will replace the current one. It will build on its success and expand the active travel offer.
How well is the current hub in the bus station used?
The current hub has a strong customer base, with 171 currently registered users. From April 2021 to January 2022, there were around 300 workshop services, 209 bike loans, and 150 bike checks at the ATH.
Why are you building a new ATH when there are few safe cycling routes into town? How will the ATH link up with routes and roads across the Town centre?
We are working with the local Cycle Forum to develop a pipeline of schemes in and around the Town Centre – funding has been allocated for the Town Centre to Oakwell / Metrodome link and we will continue to focus on the Town Centre through a dedicated working group.
A shift to more Active Travel also relies on good public transport. The provision is currently poor – what is the Council’s influence over public transport?
Our influence is limited on public transport and this is operated by private operators who ultimately make commercial decisions around which routes are possible.
However, given this is a town centre development close to the Interchange and active travel routes, National Planning Guidance advocates less reliance on the private car in such areas - this has worked well in other towns and cities despite requiring a mind shift away from the car.
Will there be access to lockers in the new ATH?
The active travel hub will provide a range of facilities, including lockers, showers and drying areas.
Will the houses be Homes with Multiple Occupancy?
The Seam will bring forward high quality, low carbon, town centre housing creating a new offer in the Town Centre. Our market engagement to date suggests that town houses and some apartments are likely to be provided. These will not be homes of multiple occupation.
How realistic is a car-reduced development with new residential housing?
The housing offer for the Town Centre will focus on low carbon development and will be marketed accordingly, to take advantage of the sustainable location.
Car free is the aspiration for the site, but we need to work with private developers to ensure that this is market facing and that ultimately they can sell the housing on this site. We will expect to see a low car development and look at examples of other developments across the Country that have adopted this approach. We will encourage residential developers to provide alternative options to car ownership.
There will of course be a requirement to consider the needs of residents and visitors with a disability.
Why do we need to expand the number of houses in the Town?
We are looking to create a different type of housing offer for the Town centre and market this site to people who aspire to living in a more sustainable, environmentally conscious way, supporting town centre retail and markets. It is also part of the Seam Digital Campus, which is a testbed for digital innovation, there is an expectation that the Campus feel and resources on site will encourage those in the digital and creative sectors to consider living here.
How will you ensure that the housing delivered on the site is of high quality and attracts people to live there?
The housing will be delivered by the private sector for sale on the open market. As landowner, BMBC will run a tender exercise to appoint a suitable developer for the site. Part of the brief will be ensuring they meet the values and share the aspirations for high quality sustainable homes. The private sector will assess the market demand before committing to investment and will plan their build out rate linked to sale completions.
Will any of the houses have parking provision for those with disabilities?
The residential developer will have a duty to consider the needs of those people with a disability and ensure parking is provided on site.
How will you ensure the housing will be safe?
The site blueprint considered safety throughout the design process, ensuring pedestrian routes are overlooked and well lit. The residential developer will be required to design the development in accordance with the principles of Secured by Design.
I’m worried about anti-social behaviour (ASB) – how you will you reduce this on the new site?
The development will be brought forward in phases ensuring that new public open space is overlooked, discouraging ASB. Throughout the process so far, we have asked our design team to prioritise safety and lighting. We will also work closely with South Yorkshire Police's Designing out Crime Officer.
What measures will there be to ensure the new walkway is safe and well-light at all times of day and night?
The new walkway and central greenspace will not be brought into use until the residential plots are developed. This will ensure the route is overlooked and well-lit and that the area feels safer as a result of activity during the day and night. The management of these spaces is also an important consideration and will be part of a site wide asset strategy.
Will disabilities be considered in the design of this site?
Under the Equality Act 2010, all organisations are required to promote equality for people with “protected characteristics” in every aspect of their work. This includes access to buildings and services for those with the protected characteristic of disability
We have undertaken an Equalities Impact Assessment for the site and will continue to monitor and update this to ensure that people with a disability can access the site and buildings safely.
What will you do if residents oppose plans in consultation?
The site has already been approved for residential following consultation for the local plan. This stage of consultation is about ensuring we listen to you as we work through the design of the site, and we have now shared the feedback with our design team. The proposals will also have to go through a rigorous planning application this year.
What sorts of ‘smart tech’ will be included? Will it be ethical?
Our priority is ensuring that the Campus has sufficient data and power to build upon, this will include the development of Gigabit Fibre.
Smart Technology is about creating a benefit for the end user and therefore any plans to install smart technology will be developed through a business case with relevant stakeholders. This work will be led by a specialist IOT (internet of Things) working group.
Smart tech could include lighting controlled by sensors, smart parking, or air quality monitoring, for example.
What is the actual detail of plans to make the site sustainable?
A sustainable strategy has been developed for the site and as design develops there will be a check and challenge against this strategy.
Transport & Connectivity – Active travel/ cycle spaces/ cycle routes / green infrastructure/ EV charging
Biodiversity & Green Infrastructure – Multifunctional greenspace/ green roof
Climate Resilience – Green roof systems/ PV’s/ low water consumption
Energy & Operational Carbon – exploring route to net zero operational/ low carbon technologies
Resource Efficiency – Recycled materials/ locally sourced / reduce embodied carbon
Health & Wellbeing – External activity/ natural spaces
Sustainable Communities & Social Value – Community space/ smart technologies/ BREAM
Why focus on Barnsley town centre?
The Local Plan has long recognised the importance of this site within the fabric of the Town Centre. The right type of housing in the Town centre strengthens community ownership of town centres, creates vibrancy throughout the day and, importantly, generates footfall to sustain retail, leisure and other uses.
Investment into the Campus builds on the existing strengths of the current location including the Digital Media Centres and Barnsley College facilities and will complement the wider investment and growth plans established to develop our Principal Towns and Local Centres.
Will the grass be real grass?
Yes! Biodiversity will be an important part of this development.