A trader has labelled the upheaval to transform South Shields Market Place as a “necessary evil” as work to revamp the historic area picks up pace.
The first stage in the transformation of the famous trading square has been launched with landscaping of the northern section.
It is just the beginning of what will be a major overhaul of the area as part of South Tyneside Council’s ‘South Shields 365’ £100million masterplan.
The work will pave the way for main contractor Bowmer and Kirkland to install groundworks, including drainage and service ducting, to feed a new lighting scheme.
Kerbs will then be formed to the new road configuration around the site and concrete foundations and the steelwork structure for a new fixed market canopy installed. Finally, new paving, signage and street furniture will be fitted.
Traders the Gazette spoke to were supportive of the need to make the market fit for the 21st century.
Ewen Murray, who runs Aldermans cafe in the Market Place, said his trade hadn’t been particularly impacted upon since the works started.
He said: “They have generally kept the disruption down and the noise of the pneumatic drills is restricted to the morning.
“There has been a bit of dust but you would expect that. The good thing is that the work has coincided with the great weather which has been bringing people into the town.
“You’d expect some level of noise and dust and I regard this as a necessary evil because this work is needed. It’s a question of short-term pain for long-term gain and when the work is completed it will be a market to be proud of. The fact that it will have a cover over it will mean the market can trade in all weathers, that’s essential because so many days are currently lost because of the weather.”
Michael Hedley, co-owner of the Market Cobbler, concurred, adding: “The closing off of the road means we’re not getting the drivers dropping off their shoes for repair or picking them up, but you have to look at the long-term benefits of the work.
“We need the market to be successful for our businesses to be successful. It goes hand in hand.”
Coun John Anglin, the council’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “Once the remodelling is complete, it will be a fantastic 21st century civic space at the heart of the town where it will become a focal point not only for the market but for other events and activities.”