Businesses look to the future after rethink on South Shields masterplan

Peter Maughan of Beacon Electical.

Peter Maughan of Beacon Electical.

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Business bosses who faced uncertainty over their future as plans to clear their properties to make way for shops as part of the South Shields 365 regeneration scheme have spoken of their relief after the proposals were axed.

South Tyneside Council had already carried out Compulsory Purchase Orders on three properties within the phase four area of the town centre - it has not been able to say how many would have been affected by the redevelopment of the land.

Ashley Timber's managing director Brian Seales.

Ashley Timber's managing director Brian Seales.

Now, those in charge of the firms have spoken of how they are looking forward to investing and developing their companies in their existing buildings, after being told they will say put.

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Peter Maughan, of Beacon Electrical, has been in Franklin Street for 10 years and in the town centre for three decades, with six of his eight staff based there.

It’s been traumatic because we didn’t know if we were going to have to shift and it was worrying, being to a town centre business and thinking we might have to move to the outskirts.

Peter Maughan of Beacon Electrical

He said: “It’s been traumatic because we didn’t know if we were going to have to shift and it was worrying, being to a town centre business and thinking we might have to move to the outskirts.

“It’s been frustrating because we have had this ongoing for three years and not just for us but for customers and for the staff and the maintenance has suffered.”

He expressed concerns the area of land could be “blocked in” by the work which will go on to build the new transport interchange nearby.

Brian Seales, is managing director of Ashley Timber and Ashley Bathrooms, which has stood on Garden Lane for 28 years, and employs 22 staff.

Franklin Street in South Shields.

Franklin Street in South Shields.

He said: “Our customers have been asking questions about what’s happening and have we found somewhere, because our position in the town centre has been really paramount to our success over the years and we’ve been here for a long time.

“Our suppliers have got itchy about it as well and our staff have been asking almost every day if we’d heard anything.

“We also couldn’t invest and carry out the necessary repairs to the building, because it could have been a case we were throwing money away.

“I’m over the moon now and we can get on with developing our business.”

Some buildings have been bought in South Shields town centre as part of the 365 plans.

Some buildings have been bought in South Shields town centre as part of the 365 plans.

David Burke bought his dad Eddie’s car and van repair business in Franklin Street from him as the plans for the area were announced and his father retired.

David, who employs three others, said: “It’s a relief to know because it was quite stressful.

“We were hanging on and I spent a bit of time looking for other premises and had meetings with surveyors and solicitors and went to view a couple of places.”

He is now preparing to discuss the freehold of the building with the council to secure its future, should he decide to sell it on.