THE man charged with creating a new £100m town centre for South Shields believes his firm can deliver in “closer to 10 than 20 years.”
David Wells, development director at Muse Developments, spoke as the first detailed images of the ‘365 Masterplan’ were issued.
The artist impressions show a new Central Library and Digital Media Centre on the riverside and improvements to the adjacent Market Place.
A public consultation takes place next week to give people in the town a say on the plans – drawn up by South Tyneside Council and the specialist urban regeneration company.
The aim is that a planning bid for the initial £10m phase will be submitted for approval next month and, if all goes to plan, work on site could start as early as January next year.
Mr Wells said he believed the masterplan will have a “ripple effect” by attracting more visitors and investment into the town.
He said: “This level of investment will make a big difference to South Shields as a whole and will have a ripple effect on how people see the town by attracting visitors and more investment into the town.
“I believe we can deliver this vision in closer to 10 than 20 years.”
He added: “The sense of community in South Shields is second to none and the new library and transformation of the Market Place will provide excellent platforms on which the community can thrive.
“The space will be mixed use with new retail opportunities as well as cultural and learning spaces with facilities for community groups and organisations of all ages to enjoy.”
Mr Wells said the Market Place would remain open to traders and the public while work was being carried out.
Mr Wells accepted it was “unfortunate” that some major retailers had exited King Street in recent months but says he believes attracting new modern retail units into the town centre will help revive the traditional shopping thoroughfare in time.
The second stage of ‘365’ will see the creation of a transport interchange next to the town’s Metro station, consultation on which should start next year.
That would be followed in about three years by a new cinema complex and leisure facilities in the Barrington Street/Keppel Street area.
The vision would then be completed by the establishment of a major retail hub at the back of Fowler Street.
The new Central Library design is a 45,000 sq ft circular building located on part of the former Wouldhave House site.
The four-storey building would also incorporate audio-visual attractions, webcams and links to other borough visitor attractions, including Arbeia Fort, Bede’s World and Haven Point.
A South Tyneside Council spokesperson added: “Now that the first phases of the plans are nearing completion and we move towards submitting planning applications, we’re about to make the first steps to ensure that our town’s potential is realised.
“Our vision for South Shields Town Centre is to make it a place of year-round cultural, leisure and retail activity for residents, businesses and visitors.
“The initial phase of our plan – the new Central Library and Digital Media Centre, and improved Market Place – directly addresses these issues by providing an innovative multi-media centre equipped with the latest technology and community facilities, which will be a destination for our residents and visitors to the borough.”