TWO of the final survivors in a once-bustling shopping thoroughfare now facing being bulldozed are staying put for now despite council chiefs stepping up their efforts to get demolition under way.
South Tyneside Council has agreed to the use of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) to ensure it acquires all the properties affected at the southern end of Frederick Street in South Shields.
It wants to take ownership of buildings “without delay” to allow a multi-million-pound plan for the transformation of the run-down neighbourhood to go ahead.
The £30m scheme, set to create 222 family homes at the new Trinity South development over a six-year period, is being drawn up by Doncaster-based house-builder Keepmoat in partnership with the council and the Homes and Communities Agency.
Two of the traders yet to strike a deal – and in the firing line of the order – are Roger Dhillon, owner of the Frederick Wines off-licence, and Jim Parkin, tenant at JW Parkin and Sons, a furniture store.
Mr Dhillon said: “I’m not sure the CPO will make a great deal of difference, and the council going ahead with it doesn’t come as a great surprise. Negotiations are still going on.
“I’ve invested heavily in the shop, and that should be reflected in any offer. There is also a three-bedroom flat upstairs to consider.”
The owner of Parkin’s has already struck a deal but, as a tenant with an open-ended lease, Mr Parkin is holding out for a “little bit of compensation”.
He added: “I’m 54, and I’m not asking for a huge amount, but I have worked here since I was 16, when it was Kent’s.
“I couldn’t find another premises of this size for what I’m paying.
“I’ve been offered no guidelines or options and,as for the CPO, it’s just a legal way of kicking me out.”
The first phase of construction is to be centred on the south-west corner of the site, near Reed Street and Eldon Street, but the partnership is also making progress on plans for future phases.
That includes a 5.3-hectare development area incorporating the former Circatex factory and the southern half of Frederick Street, which is earmarked for demolition.
Although the council has acquired a number of properties in the street, a significant number of landowners have yet to agree terms.