IT was one small step ... but a giant leap forward for the £100m transformation of South Shields town centre.
That was the message as work to demolish the eyesore office complex Wouldhave House got under way.
Workers from Owen Pugh have set up a site in the town’s Market Place for the 14-week process.
And the two men driving forward the South Shields 365 masterplan were on hand to see their vision start to become a reality.
Coun Iain Malcolm, the Labour leader of South Tyneside Council, and the authority’s chief executive, Martin Swales, expressed delight that the blot on the landscape will soon be eradicated.
In its place will emerge two new buildings, incorporating a library and cultural centre with rooftop restaurant, linking the Market Place to the Riverside regeneration area, where construction of the £2.3m Harton Quays Park is already well under way.
South Shields 365 will mean a town centre overhaul including a new cinema and library, and improved retail and leisure facilities.
Next week will see a smaller demolition vehicle used to clear Wouldhave House internally, and identify items that can be recycled.
The following week a 46-tonne digger will start to bring down the exterior of the building.
Meanwhile, a private developer to help take forward South Shields 365 over the next decade is expected to be in place by May.
Coun Malcolm said: “It is only a month since we launched South Shields 365 – and today we see the first physical steps towards making that vision a reality.”