South Tyneside Council's £100million regeneration plan for South Shields town centre has been boosted after a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) was granted.
The 365 project began with the opening of The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, in Market Place, South Shields.
The Secretary of State has now confirmed the CPO made by the council for South Shields town centre.
The CPO secures the authority's ownership of remaining land and properties in the town centre redevelopment area which are not yet in council ownership.
The next phases of the regeneration plan can now go ahead, with planning permission having already been granted for a new transport interchange, and outline planning permission granted for phase three, a new retail and leisure development.
A Stopping Up Order, which will enable all of the associated highways work to proceed, has also been confirmed.
Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “We’re delighted that the Secretary of State has confirmed the Compulsory Purchase Order.
“This is an endorsement of the South Shields 365 masterplan as a credible, deliverable scheme that will inject renewed vitality and bring economic and social benefits to the town.
“Phase one, The Word, is proving phenomenally successful and bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors into the town centre and now we are looking forward to pressing ahead with the next stages which will complete the town’s journey of transformation.”
He added: “The council has been working closely with owners and tenants to secure the land and properties it needs to facilitate the regeneration.
“We would always prefer to do this by negotiation but that has not been possible in all cases.
“There has been a tremendous amount of hard work going on behind the scenes to plan the infrastructure required for the next phases and now we have the CPO decision we can press ahead without delay.”
The confirmation of the CPO does not, though, mean the land now automatically belongs to the council, who must now go through further legal processes to obtain ownership and possession of the properties.
Affected landowners will be compensated for the value of their interests.
The next phase of the scheme is continuing, with the Post Office set to relocate from Keppel Street to King Street following the refurbishment of the former Officers Club Unit.
Subject to a successful funding bid, work will also begin on Nexus' railway skills academy towards the end of the year.
Demolitions will get underway later this year in anticipation of a start on site for the transport interchange next spring.