Business owners in part of South Shields are hoping for a brighter future after two years of redevelopment torment.
South Tyneside Council revealed on Monday that phase four of its £100million project for South Shields town centre – the 365 Masterplan – has been ‘deferred to a later date’.
The area behind Fowler Street was due to accommodate a major supermarket, but the plan has been put on hold due to a drop in demand for big venues.
To make way for the planned development, a number of businesses in the area were told they needed to relocate, so their premises could be bulldozed.
For the last two years, owners have been left in limbo.
Chris Richardson, owner of Leighton Motors in Franklin Street, says he is disappointed that he’s not been officially told the plans have been shelved,
He said: “Nobody has contacted me yet to say the plans have been halted. We heard it from the accountant, who has an office on our site.
“He received an email on Friday and it said that nothing is likely to happen for the next five to 10 years.
“For us, it is good news. We don’t have to find another site. We can stay here in the town centre, where everyone knows where we are.”
Peter Maughan, who owns Beacon Electrical, also in Franklin Street, says at last he can look to the future.
He said: “For more than two years we’ve been left in limbo and uncertainty.
“I couldn’t negotiate business, as I didn’t know where I’d be or where we’d be moving to. There was so much up in the air.
“There’s been no end of worry and I am now relieved that we have some kind of stability back in our lives.”
Mr Maughan says he was told that the plans had been “postponed indefinitely”.
He said: “We were originally told that we’d be out of here by mid-2015 and that obviously hasn’t happened.
“I haven’t been able to invest in the building or do any work to it.
A spokesman for the council said: “In our communications with affected businesses we have confirmed that Phase 4 is deferred. This is as a result of national changing trends in supermarkets.
“It remains the council’s intention to pursue the redevelopment of this land for a supermarket in the future as part of the comprehensive regeneration of the town centre and we will continue to work with landowners/businesses and our development partner Muse to achieve this.
“The council and Muse Developments remain fully committed to the redevelopment of the town centre, which will see new retail and family leisure uses brought forward in the heart of the town centre around Barrington Street.
“The new cultural facility, The Word, is on track to open in the autumn, and next year will see the start of work on site to deliver a new transport interchange on Keppel Street, which will provide high-quality public transport facilities as well as a striking point of arrival into the town.
“Property acquisitions for these elements of the regeneration will continue as originally planned.”