SOUTH Tyneside Council bosses have been accused of “trying to kill off” South Shields Market, as plans for a £100m masterplan were revealed.
Market traders have reacted with fury over radical plans to breathe new life into the town centre.
The council’s masterplan proposes two new buildings to replace Wouldhave House.
The larger of the two, which faces the riverside and St Hilda’s Church grounds, is proposed as an ‘arts and cultural hub’ with a new central library and community hub at its heart, incorporating retail and leisure use on the bottom floor.
But far more alarming for market traders is the proposal to divide the Market Place, to create a “21st-century civic space”, retaining the Old Town Hall at its centre, but also providing a public green open space, cafe and amphitheatre.
That leaves a much-reduced area for traders to sell their wares, on the area of the Market Place closest to the current Wilkinson’s store.
It’s a plan which has enraged Lynn Lucas, a member of the market committee, who said: “South Shields is a market town. It’s been a market town since back in 1734.
“I have looked at this masterplan carefully, and all I can see is space for 13 covers for stalls.
“The market is to be cut by more than a half, and that can’t be right.
“They talk about moving stalls to other parts of the town, such as Mile End Road, but that is not going to work.
“Why doesn’t the council listen to the public? They want the market to stay in the Market Place.
“What we really need is advertising to attract day-trippers to the town and the market, and a drop-off point for those day-trippers beside the Market Place.
“We also need a cover over the market.
“It is no coincidence that the MetroCentre is chock-a-block every day – because it’s enclosed from the elements and offers free parking. That’s the example we should follow.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see Wouldhave House coming down, but if they go ahead with plans of splitting us up, it’s going to kill the market off.
“That will be taking away people’s livelihoods.”
Fellow market trader Nicola Ross agreed, adding: “I was at the presentation at One Trinity Green, and I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“I saw the trees on one side and a few stalls on the other. It’s just a plan to get rid of us.”