A HOUSING bonanza could be a major boost for Hebburn town centre after the sale of an abandoned college site.
The former South Tyneside College campus in Hebburn has been sold, and a local councillor believes hundreds of new homes could play a key role in attracting a major supermarket chain to the town centre.
The new homes – which councillors hope will also provide social housing – are set to be built on the ex-campus, in Mill Lane, which closed almost three years ago.
The buyer and detailed plans for the site have yet to be revealed and no planning application has yet been made.
The college has confirmed the former education site has been sold to a housing developer – with plans for new homes set to be submitted to South Tyneside Council.
College bosses axed the 60-year-old education complex, which covers more than 21 acres, because it was outdated, with annual maintenance costs rising to £500,000.
While lamenting the loss of the educational facility, town councillors have welcomed a potential housing boom on their doorstep.
Coun Eddie McAtominey, one of the main movers behind town regeneration plans, said: “Several hundred new homes on the college site will create more customers and help boost the chances of a big supermarket development.
“With major housing schemes under way at places like Monkton Fell and behind the Reyrolle site in Hebburn, the town will have something like 1,200 to 1,500 new homes in the town within the next year or two, which will boost the town’s rateable value and help to attract major retailers to the town.”
Coun John McCabe, vice-chairman of Hebburn Community Area Forum, said: “It’s a huge site, which could accommodate a few hundred homes.
“Although it’s a shame that we lost such a fine educational facility in the town, we still need homes in Hebburn, and this is something which comes up time and time again in our surgeries.
“Any scheme which ameliorates the college site and provides good-quality housing is to be welcomed.”
Coun McAtominey added: “It’s a prime site in South Tyneside and I imagine very sought-after by housing developers.
“I would hope that whoever has bought the land looks at the needs of the community and includes an element of social housing in the development.
“The former college site is very big and I should think a considerable number of properties could be built on the site.”
A spokesman for South Tyneside College said: “Contracts have been exchanged with the purchaser, a housing developer.
“The developer is in the process of submitting plans to South Tyneside Council to redevelop the site for housing, therefore details of the final price remain confidential until the contract has completed.”
The Hebburn campus closed in the summer of 2011, resulting in the transfer of hundreds of students to the South Shields college site in St George’s Avenue, Westoe, South Shields.
After the closure, the 21.8-acre site has been used for training by both Northumbria Police and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.
Talks have been ongoing for some time between college management and a potential housing developer.
The college will have been closed for three years this summer, which sparked fears over vandalism and the state of the complex.