AMBITIOUS plans to inject almost £20m into the town centre and its surrounding areas are being drawn up following government funding approval.

Ministers announced a new long-term plan for towns in October, which aims to bring together community leaders, businesspeople and local bodies to forge their town’s future together.

It is supported by £20m investment over ten years from the government.

The money must be spent in the historic ‘Barnsley Town’ area which includes the town centre and some surrounding residential areas, and a plan for how to spend the money needs to be drawn up by summer 2024.

A new board is being developed to help steer this work and Edward Naylor, chief executive of Barnsley-based family firm Naylor Industries, has been appointed to lead it.

The original company was established in 1890 as a manufacturer of clay drainage pipes but has since diversified and grown to become a global provider of plastic and concrete products – primarily for construction – employing some 400 people.

Development of the board will be continuing in the new year and it is hoped the first board meeting will take place in March.

A town plan – outlining how the board intends to use the money – will be completed by the end of the summer following input from other local business leaders, as well as representatives from local charities and community groups.

Edward said: “I’m delighted to have accepted the offer to lead the board which will deliver this historic investment into Barnsley.

“I’m proud to be from Barnsley and have enjoyed seeing the fantastic transformation of the town centre in recent years.

“We have got a tremendous opportunity to bring together local leaders, business people and community groups and to get input from local people to create the best possible plan we can to make the most of this investment for the people of Barnsley.”

Criteria for the investment includes safety, security, heritage, regeneration, transport and connectivity.

The initial plan is for the board to follow a similar model to the one established in the Dearne, where the Goldthorpe Town Board is overseeing a £23.1m investment from the government.

Leader of Barnsley Council, Sir Steve Houghton, added: “I think everyone is starting to realise that it’s time to believe in the possibilities of Barnsley, to look to the future with excitement and optimism.

“We have a fantastic town centre and an ambitious programme of investment work in our local centres across Barnsley which is helping local high streets thrive across the borough.

“The government decided where this latest investment can be spent and through this new board we’ll make sure that it helps us continue to grow opportunities for local people in Barnsley, particularly in our town centre and in the local communities who live in and around it.”