PLANS for an ice rink were today revealed as part of the first stage of a £100m South Shields town centre masterplan.
A model of the proposed new £10m Central Library and Digital Hub and the £2m Market Place redevelopment took centre stage as those behind the ‘South Shields 365’ vision gathered to discuss plans with the public.
And architects involved with the scheme say a portable ice rink, to be located in the Market Place at certain times of the year, forms part of the plans.
Council officials and leading figures from Muse Developments were among those who met at the Central Library in Prince Georg Square to invite public feedback on the plans.
And they will be back at the same location on Saturday, when people can again view a scaled model of the site from noon to 4pm.
Architect Carl Braim, of The Harris Partnership, has helped design the public space around the proposed new library.
He said: “The area could stage seasonal events, we could bring in seasonal markets and different sorts of leisure events, such as small concerts and ice skating, with a rink possibly on the southern section of the square.
“The way we have designed it, that area will become a real multi-use space, so we can bring things on and off it.
“We particularly wanted to enhance the market and we’ve introduced a new permanent shelter in there for the market stalls, with power and water.
“We will also be reorganising the flow of vehicles around the space to make it much more pedestrian-friendly.
“We’re looking to keep the same amount of market stalls but what we feel strongly is that market stalls should not be left on site all the time.
“They need to be taken off site so that spaces are made available for events and recreation and other activities that South Tyneside Council can bring into the town to make it a real active presence.
“Currently when the market is not operational the stalls are left in place which means it becomes a bit of a ghetto, really, and there is no activity in that place.”
Work is expected to start on the Market Place redevelopment at the beginning of next year and should be complete within two years.
David Wells, development director with Muse Developments, called on townsfolk to have their say on the plans.
He said: “We need all the input we can get. People’s views will be taken into account.”
* For more on this story, don’t miss tomorrow’s Gazette.