A MULTI-MILLION ‘masterplan’ for South Shields town centre moved a step closer today.
The company tasked with flattening Wouldhave House in South Shields Market Place, Northumberland-based Owen Pugh Contracts, will be handed the keys to the building before Monday, February 11.
It is anticipated demolition work will take 14 weeks and flattening the 1960s-style building is seen as a key element in the £100m regeneration plan for the town centre.
That plan, ‘South Shields 365’, was unveiled last month and will see the building of a new central library, a six-screen cinema, hotel and conference centre and major retail unit.
The work to flatten Wouldhave House will result in three months of disruption in and around the Market Place. Initially hoardings will be erected around the site before internal stripping work is carried out.
Demolition of the building itself will follow “in a few weeks”, it has emerged.
That will inevitably mean disruption for stallholders on market days.
Owen Pugh is expected to have talks with traders – which may result in stallholders working in other parts of the town for a period.
South Tyneside Council is pressing ahead with plans to build a new central library and arts centre on the site.
Two new buildings are proposed, one of which will provide an arts and cultural hub with a new central library and community hub at its heart.
Council leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, said: “It is not yet four weeks since we launched the South Shields 365 masterplan and we are looking forward to the start of work on the ground.
“Wouldhave House is an eyesore and I’m sure local people will be happy to see it is coming down. In its place, we are planning a new central library with space for other arts and cultural uses.
“We are looking for the building to house a restaurant on its top floor, which would provide fantastic views of the river and town, while the ground floor will offer further restaurant, leisure and retail opportunities.
“These are the kind of attractions that will help us make South Shields a place of year round cultural, leisure and retail activity.”
Coun Malcolm added: “We have made it very clear in the South Shields 365 masterplan that we view the market place as a great civic asset with the potential to be grown and nurtured into something very special and unique for the town.
“There is also potential to use the market square as a venue for events and activities throughout the year.”