COUNCIL bosses could be on a collision course with property owners over a £100m masterplan to revamp South Shields town centre.
South Tyneside Council needs to acquire about 120 properties to make the South Shields 365 project a reality, and negotiations are already under way with the owners of properties that would need to be flattened to make way for the redevelopment.
The talks are mostly with property owners around the Barrington Street area – earmarked for leisure and retail outlets – and land to the west of Fowler Street, lined up to become a transport hub.
A council boss has admitted it is likely the local authority will need to invoke its powers of compulsory purchase to force some landowners to sell up.
It is also acknowledged that the cost of the whole process will run to “several million” pounds.
Despite those concerns, some deals have already been struck.
The former Streamline Garage building, in Burrow Street, has been acquired by the council.
The local authority is eager to avert a repeat of the protracted negotiations required with landowners in Frederick Street, South Shields.
That dispute has held back some of the plans for the transformation of the area.
Among the buildings to be flattened as part of the 365 masterplan are the town’s post office and Dawson and Sanderson travel agent’s in Keppel Street, and the Shields Gazette’s office and JobCentre in Chapter Row.
In a report to next week’s meeting of the council’s Riverside community area forum, David Cramond, the authority’s corporate director for economic regeneration, says: “In order to enable the scheme to proceed, the council will need to acquire about 120 property interests in the town centre.
“The council has developed, and is implementing, a detailed property strategy and has approached all landowners affected by the scheme and is in negotiation with several of them with a view to acquiring their interests.
“One property in Barrington Street has been acquired in addition to other properties in and around Fowler Street.
“It is likely that the council will need to invoke its powers of compulsory purchase in order to acquire all the necessary property interests.”
Meanwhile, a planning application for a new library and community hub at the former Wouldhave House, in Market Place, is to be submitted “within weeks”.
Work on the new community hub and library is expected to start in the autumn.
It is said the building will be of “outstanding architectural merit” and is to incorporate a rooftop restaurant.
Mr Cramond adds: “The building provides the opportunity for an exemplary building of outstanding architectural merit which will set a benchmark for design quality within the town centre. Work is currently focused on refining the exterior design of the building and its interior content, which will include a rooftop restaurant and commercial ground-floor uses, as well as the library and digital media and community andexhibition space.
“It is anticipated that a planning application will be submitted within the next 12 weeks.”
John Anglin, chairman of the forum, said: “In these difficult economic times, it says huge amounts for the determination of the council that we are pressing ahead with the rejuvenation and regeneration of South Shields.
“We have already seen the marvellous results at Haven Point and along the promenade.
“Now, we can all be certain that the same is going to happen in South Shields town centre.
“This will do for the town centre what the new swimming pool and leisure complex has done for the seafront, ensuring that it will attract visitors from outside of the borough while at the same time providing residents with iconic and state-of-the-art facilities.”
Is your property one of those affected? Call us on 427 4852.
What’s on agenda for town after redevelopment
SOUTH Shields 365 aims to complete a wholesale transformation of the town centre over the next decade.
The plans include:
* New cinema and restaurant outlets in Chapter Row.
* Improved pedestrian spaces in Market Place, including cafes and grassed areas.
* A “comprehensive redevelopment” of Fowler Street West to create a new retail quarter.
* A priority to attract a quality hotel with conference facilities.
* Improvements to the bus terminal and routes between the riverside, town centre and foreshore.
* The library at Prince Georg Square making way for housing.
* The 365 plan aims to make South Shields a “destination” every day of the year.