My View, Glyn Jones: How we plan to revamp the town centre
Next week cabinet will be considering two new developments,part of plans to regenerate the centre of Doncaster, provide new opportunities for residents and bring more jobs to the area.
We have some great assets in the centre of Doncaster but there is no doubt that some areas are in need of a facelift. It is vitally important that we have a busy, vibrant and pleasant town centre and these schemes will help us on that journey.
If approved, the first scheme will lead to the refurbishment of Colonnades into a modern, open-plan, Grade A office block, with an improved and upgraded shopping mall. After 35 years of use the building is certainly in need of a spruce-up and this project will deliver that. Importantly, it will also help to address a significant issue in the town centre, which is the current lack of sufficient high-quality office accommodation.
Without high-quality offices it will be difficult to encourage local, regional and national businesses to locate into the town centre, despite our excellent rail connectivity and transport links.
If we are to ensure that Doncaster has a welcoming, bustling town centre with a wide range of shops, cafes and restaurants, then we need people to work, visit and live there.
We all know that the nature of town and city centres has changed, as business is done differently and retail habits change. For shops to thrive they need a ready supply of customers.
The second project will lead to further improvements at the Civic Square to deliver new public realm and connect development sites, while more than £7m of private sector funding is invested to deliver a new six-screen cinema and four restaurant units.
Around two thirds of the £4.5m cost of the projects is being paid for through the Sheffield City Region Investment Fund (SCRIF), which the Mayor helped to secure for Doncaster through her work in the region.
The remainder is being invested by Muse, the Council’s development partner, and by using the council’s capital budget. In recent years we have been successful at securing investment, jobs and housing to a number of out-of-town areas, including Lakeside, Armthorpe, Rossington, Redhouse and the new Unity project which is set to be developed at Hatfield and Stainforth.
As in many other areas, securing the redevelopment of the town centre has been more slow and compounded by the recession, and subsequent economic slow-down.
However, those issues have not dampened our commitment to the centre of Doncaster, and I hope these will be just two of many exciting town centre projects that we can bring forward in the coming months and years.