TOWN centre businesses who could see their firms moved to an outlying industrial estate to make way for the council’s “South Shields 365” masterplan are resisting the move, it has emerged.
South Tyneside Council has acquired land behind Tesco supermarket, on the Simonside Industrial Estate, to relocate firms currently operating at the rear of Fowler Street, South Shields, and discussions have been launched with businesses over the possibility of re-locating there.
But traders have reservations over the move, claiming the site is “too isolated” from the town centre.
Now it seems likely the local authority will need to utilise compulsory purchase powers to ensure the £100m vision for the future of the town is realised.
In a recent regeneration report, David Cramond, the council’s corporate director for economic regeneration, says: “As part of the regeneration of the town centre, it is necessary to acquire a significant number of properties in order to assemble sites to facilitate new development.
“Active negotiations are currently in hand for a number of properties.
“However some resistance from owners is being experienced, and it is likely the council will need to commence seeking compulsory purchase powers this year to be able to complete the necessary land and property acquisitions.
“Where the council has acquired properties necessary for regeneration, it will look to demolish where appropriate.
“In addition to acquiring land and assembling sites, the council is mindful that this will involve the relocation of some businesses.
“Every business in the town centre which is affected by the regeneration proposals has been contacted by the council, and is actively seeking to work with these businesses to identify alternative accommodation for those wishing to relocate.
“A site at Simonside Industrial Estate has recently been acquired by the council, and early stage discussions are taking place with some affected businesses concerning their relocation.”
John Carey, who has run John Carey Motors in William Street, South Shields for 18 years, is one of the businesses affected.
He said: “We’re very much up in the air. We’ve no idea what sort of timescale the council is working to, although there have been a lot of road markings put down recently which indicate where water and electricity supplies are, so it may be imminent.
“I’d prefer to stay in the town centre.
“Simonside Industrial Estate is too isolated. If an old guy is dropping his car off there, how’s he going to get back home? We need more information. I only rent but the landlord hasn’t heard anything.”
Paul Campbell, of Campbell Wedding Cars, in Franklin Street, does own his building, and is seeking a financial compensation package from the council – in addition to relocation.
He said: “Ideally, I’d like to stay in the town centre. All the businesses work well around here because we’re mostly all in the motor trade, and customers hear about you from word of mouth to some degree.
“That wouldn’t be the case so much at Simonside, and there wouldn’t be the passing trade.”