Plans to transform former call centre into flats are welcomed

The Garlands building, South Shields. Picture: TOM BANKS
The Garlands building, South Shields. Picture: TOM BANKS

Gazette readers have welcomed a move to turn a ‘white elephant’ building into 43 riverside apartments.

Plans have been submitted to turn the former Garlands call centre site, in Long Row, Market Dock, South Shields, into luxury flats.

The building, which overlooks the Tyne, has been empty since energy company Utilitywise left in late 2014 after it relocated to North Tyneside.

Prior to that it was occupied by call centre firm Garlands - which plunged into administration in May 2010 - just three years after the building was built.

The work went ahead despite objections from residents.

Developers Keywest Three, based in Maxwell Street, South Shields, hope to bring life back to the site after buying the building December.

The company has now submitted their plans to South Tyneside Council asking for permission to change the property’s intended use from offices into dwellings.

Norman Fada, one of the company’s directors, said: “For years this building has been a white elephant, with many people opposed to it and objecting to it being used by the companies.

“We bought it with the intention of turning it into residential properties because of its beautiful surroundings. “I know many of the residents living nearby are pleased that something could finally be happening with the site as it has just been left.”

Readers have flocked to the Gazette’s website and Facebook account to express their views on the plans.

The vast majority are in favour of the proposals.

David Morrow said: “I think it’s a great idea. It will bring that dark area of Wapping Street to life. I pick my son up from sea cadets there on a Friday night and it’s not a safe looking area.

“It will be much better once people live there. Lucky folk will have a cracking view. Should have been residential all along.”

Lynn Harrison said: “It’s about time they did something with it because its a great location.”

Viv Marley said: “Don’t know who came up with this one but it’s a super idea.”

Rob Paris said: “Great idea for shields been saying this for a long time.”

Not everyone is keen on the building’s appearance - but even those that don’t like the look of it are still happy it could be transformed.

Richard Lees said: “Hideous building but at least it’ll be getting used.”

Neil Robinson: “It’s hideous. One of the worst designed buildings I’ve ever seen.

“Agree that the views are great though.”

If the proposals are given the go-ahead by the council’s planning department, Mr Fada says the prject would be carried out within the next two years.