Doncaster council unveils ‘aspirational’ plans to redevelop town centre

Doncaster Borough Council has unveiled ambitious plans to redevelop much of the town centre, but has admitted that limited funding may prevent all the ideas from being realised.

The council took the wraps off its Urban Centre Masterplan at a breakfast briefing with local business leaders today. The plan aims to breathe new life into Doncaster town centre and boost the local economy.  It outlines nine ‘development zones’ which will be prioritised to “transform the way Doncaster looks and the way residents and businesses use the city core.”

These zones include the City Gateway, Enterprise Market Place, the Waterfront, the Minster Canalside, the Civic/Business District, the Parklands, the Retail Core, the Innovation Quarter and the Waterfront Phase 2.

But the plan does not spell out the estimated cost of the project, or where the funding will come from.

Neil Firth, Head of Service for Major Projects and Investment at the council, said later today that the cost of the overall scheme could reach £23m, but that a lot of the funding is at this stage “aspirational”.

“The total cost hasn’t yet been sorted out. What it is, is a vision. Some funds are already in the pipeline for delivery and others will be delivered later,” he said.

It was announced earlier in the year that the Sheffield City Region Investment Fund would be the primary funding body for the project. But Jo Helliwell, of the Sheffield City Region Investment Fund, said: “A number of projects in the Doncaster Masterplan are within SCRIF but it’s not total funding.”

Mr Firth added that funding for future years will depend greatly on further money coming in, particularly from the town’s private sector, but said that “this is a very healthy position to be in for a masterplan.”

Despite the uncertainty, Doncaster business leaders today reacted positively to the plans.

Dan Fell, Chief Executive Officer of Doncaster Chamber, which supports and represents Doncaster’s private sector, said that the plan “recognises the need for the town to have a mixed use with provision for commercial, residential, leisure, cultural and educational activities.

“Both businesses and residents alike will be pleased to hear that the local authority is seeing this as a necessary driver to improve the local economy and boost civic pride,” he said.