A new plan for The Seam digital campus is being drawn up to better suit the funding available and meet the changing needs of town centres.
Initial plans presented to cabinet in 2022 for the digital campus were for an urban village with a new multistorey car park and a major residential development, right at the heart of the town centre. This new neighbourhood for the town centre would bring forward new space for digital, tech and creative industries businesses.
However due to mounting costs, in part driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, our Cabinet have today, 16 August 2023, approved a new approach. This will remove plans for a multistorey car park, and also the residential development.
Instead, the lower Seam car park will be extensively refurbished to create a more welcoming space for visitors, commuters, and businesses alike.
Plans will include public realm improvements to match the high-quality standard seen at the nearby Glass Works, with enhanced lighting, CCTV, street furniture, and significant capacity for electric vehicle charging supported by solar power.
We’re also planning to create a new high-quality urban green space which will further improve the welcome the town centre provides to workers, families and other visitors.
We’ll also be looking to improve cycle storage facilities to encourage more people to use active travel routes to and from our town centre.
We’ll carry out further consultation with residents and businesses as we progress these plans for this first phase of development work, focusing on the Lower Seam site.
In the meantime, we will continue to seek funding opportunities for a second phase to further enhance the Upper Seam site as a destination for digital businesses.
This revised scheme will support our ambitions for a Growing Barnsley with a reputation for being a great place to invest, and a Sustainable Barnsley with reduced carbon emissions and increased access to sustainable energy sources.
Cllr Robert Frost, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “We see The Seam as the heart of Barnsley's future economy. All economic growth will be powered by the use of digital and new technologies. This will help place Barnsley at the forefront of the digital productivity revolution and create opportunities for our residents to learn new essential digital skills for life and for work. These updated proposals will allow us to get moving on improvements we want to see as soon as possible.
“If we stand still, the borough’s economy will stand still. That’s why we’ve revisited our plans for the Seam and moving ahead with this first phase, while we continue to look at funding opportunities and partnerships for a second phase.
“Our digital campus in the town centre is a key part of our recently announced South Yorkshire Investment Zone. This will bolster the already attractive offer for innovative businesses looking to invest in Barnsley alongside our existing digital and tech companies and strengthen the growing reputation for Barnsley as a destination for digital businesses.”
Leader of Barnsley Council, Cllr Sir Steve Houghton, added: “We’ve taken a sensible look at our plans for The Seam given the huge rise in costs for major schemes. This has given us another chance to reflect on what we want to see in this part of the town centre, and come up with what I think is going to be a better scheme for businesses and local people.
“We’re going to focus our efforts on a really high-quality scheme of improvements on the lower part of the site, which will support the attractiveness of the site to businesses.
“We’ll continue to look for opportunities to fund further enhancements to the wider Seam Campus as we continue to grow our digital business community and commercial opportunities as part of the new South Yorkshire Investment Zone. This will bring even more skills and well-paid jobs to our borough.”