Multi-million pound developments see improvement to five of the town’s listed buildings
Mayor Ros Jones has hailed further investment in Doncaster’s historic buildings, after securing more than £3m in funding from the Sheffield City Region to improve Doncaster’s Grade 2 listed Wool Market.
The new investment, which the Mayor approved at Cabinet yesterday, complements £1.5m of Council investment in Doncaster’s Grade 2 star listed Corn Exchange.
It is anticipated that improvements at the Wool Market will include a glazed frontage to keep out the winter weather and new interior stalls to create an inviting retail and leisure offer.
Renovation of the Corn Exchange and Wool Market follow the recent restoration of Doncaster’s historic Grade 1 Mansion House. Work is also currently underway to improve the Grade 2 Priory Place complex attached to the Mansion House, which will be the new venue for civil wedding ceremonies.
Speaking about the investment, Mayor Jones said:
“When I became Mayor, I was very disappointed that there were a number of Doncaster’s historic buildings that were already in a state of disrepair or not being used to their full potential.”
“We’re turning things around and since I became Mayor we have completed major improvements at the Mansion House, with work currently underway on the Corn Exchange and at Priory Place. This new investment at the Wool Market will bring life back to another of our heritage buildings, and is a cornerstone of our plans to improve Doncaster’s historic markets.
“With our new regeneration scheme to enhance the railway station forecourt area, it means we have now secured millions of pounds of improvements to five of the town’s most important and historic buildings.”
A £13m scheme to deliver wide-ranging improvements at the Grade 2 listed Railway Station will create a more fitting environment for the building, with a new public space and better access for rail users.
Work to demolish the derelict former Royal Mail sorting office on West Street is already underway. It will provide a replacement parking area, with new taxi and drop-off points remaining on the station footprint.
Mayor Jones continued:
“By getting involved in the Sheffield City Region and fighting Doncaster’s corner, we’ve managed to secure millions to invest in our town centre and in doing so, restore these historic buildings back to their former glory.”
The Grand Theatre, Girls School and St James Baths
Mayor Jones stressed that the Council also wants to see improvements to historic buildings that are privately owned, such as the Grand Theatre.
The Council has limited powers to ensure that listed buildings in private ownership are protected, but it cannot simply force them to be brought back into use. However, Mayor Jones said that does not mean the Council cannot encourage and help to enable new investment.
“Whilst we can’t invest in every historic building in Doncaster, we can encourage private owners to do so, by enhancing the local environment.”
“Our new Town Centre Masterplan sets out how we will deliver these improvements. We hope that regeneration projects such as our development at the railway station, will also encourage private sector investment in buildings like the Grand Theatre and Sainsbury’s.
“We also want to see investment at the Waterfront area, which will improve the setting of Doncaster Minster, bringing more people and life to the area. Again, we’ll be looking to deliver some of these improvements using money that I have secured for Doncaster through the Sheffield City Region.”
And Mayor Jones gave an update on the former Girls School and St James Baths.
“Just a few weeks after I became Mayor in 2013, St James Baths needed to be closed because of serious structural problems and a lack of long term investment. We’re working with Historic England to fully understand the scale of the issues and identify a way forward.”
“Unfortunately there has not been any significant private sector interest in developing the former Girls school site for many years. That is disappointing but understandable, as incorporating the building into a new development will bring additional costs, impacting the financial viability of private sector schemes.”
“Whilst the building is not listed, I’d like to see it restored if possible and I want to move things forward. I have therefore been looking at options for the Council to develop the site itself, and incorporate the original building into a new development. Our current library needs significant investment, and a new efficient building including a replacement central library is one potential solution.
“My aims are clear. I want to regenerate Doncaster’s town centre and make the most of our heritage and our iconic listed buildings. That is what we have been doing since I became Mayor, and I am determined that we should continue this work to bring Doncaster’s historic buildings back to their former glory.”