AMBITIOUS plans were revealed today for a new multi-million pound community hub to inject life into battered Hebburn town centre.
Incorporating a new six-lane, 25-metre swimming pool, plus a gym, library and council and housing services, work will start on the Hebburn hub next summer.
But the news comes after it was also revealed that US-owned retail giant Asda, owner of Hebburn’s main shopping centre, has decided not to build a superstore in the town.
A new site has now been earmarked on the corner of Station Road and Glen Street, and council chiefs are still hopeful of attracting a supermarket chain.
Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, voiced annoyance over the lack of retail progress – but welcomed the Hebburn hub.
He said: “Our investment shows our determination to drive forward regeneration of Hebburn town centre with new homes and schools, as well as leisure and shopping facilities.
“We have worked hard to bring an Asda superstore to Hebburn, and believed that we had reached agreement, but Asda’s parent company in America has decided against an additional investment in the town.
“I am annoyed that they have decided not to proceed with their promised development, but I will not allow their negative response to hold up progress any longer.
“The council will now take the lead by investing in a state-of-the-art new development, which will provide quality services, boost the town centre and make Hebburn more attractive to future investors.
“In the meantime, we will work to examine whether another retailer may be interested in opening a store.
“New homes are also a key priority, and the plans include space for up to 80 family homes on cleared sites around Glen Street.”
Earlier talks between the council and retail giant Tesco collapsed in 2010, before Asda entered the frame.
Coun Eddie McAtominey, chairman of Hebburn Regeneration Board, said: “We are disappointed about Asda’s decision, but the council’s investment shows confidence and a real commitment to Hebburn.
Significant progress towards the regeneration of Hebburn town centre has been made in recent months, including the demolition of outmoded residential blocks paving the way for future development.
The £7m High View scheme has also seen 71 new homes created at School Street, Hebburn, by the Four Housing Group, with all the development’s social rented homes now let.
Hebburn has also shared in more than £200m invested in schools, including the new Keelman’s Way and Hebburn Lakes schools in the town, while both Hebburn Comprehensive and St Joseph’s Comprehensive have undergone major refurbishment.