Council leader Iain Malcolm insists he is “absolutely determined” to see through the South Shields 365 regeneration programme - but warned the town centre could not be transformed “overnight”.
The £100million blueprint, designed to breathe new life into the town centre, was first unveiled back in January 2013.
The first phase of the scheme has been the creation of a new library and digital media centre, known as The Word, which is scheduled to open its doors in autumn.
Planning permission has been granted for a new transport interchange, which will include a new bus concourse and Metro platforms, while a third phase of the scheme - which includes a five-screen cinema, a 300-space multi-storey car park, 6,800 square metres of retail space and 1,400 square metres of café and restaurant space - has also gained outline planning permission and work is estimated to start in late 2018.
To achieve its plans, council bosses have begun buying properties in the town and as well as making a Compulsory Purchase Order for required land.
A report delivered to the latest meeting of the full council by Coun John Anglin, lead member for regeneration and economy, said the authority had 45% of land and properties it required.
The council is in talks with Job Centre Plus, Royal Mail and the Post Office about relocations in the town to allow the transformation of the twon to take place.
However, last month it was revealed that plans for a new 6,000 square metre food store in the town centre had been dropped from the 365 plan because of ‘limited operator demand’.
It comes after several years marked by high-profile retail closures in the town, including the departure of Marks & Spencer from King Street, and the imminent closure of BHS in Waterloo Square.
After the report, leader Coun Iain Malcolm hailed progress made to date but stressed to colleagues that things would “take time”.
It will take time, but I am absolutely determined to see this job throughCoun Iain Malcolm
He said: “I’d like to congratulate Councillor Anglin and senior officers for the work they have been doing on the South Shields 365 regeneration programme.
“We knew when the project commenced that it would be an initial 10-year project.
“You’re not going to be able to turn around a town centre as big as South Shields overnight. It does take time.
“We’re trying to deliver this with an ever-decreasing financial envelope. It’s a real challenge for us.
“It’s a long-term vision for the future of South Shields.
“We can do without pie in the sky schemes and naive comments that somehow we can wave a magic wand and somehow this is achieved overnight.
“It will take time, but I am absolutely determined to see this job through, and I know Councillor Anglin, senior officers and this council are, too.
“We will only do it by working together to deliver that ambition.”
Following the recent collapse of BHS, which has a store in Waterloo Square, South Shields, Coun Malcolm – who was applauded by fellow councillors after his speech at Jarrow Town Hall – also warned that town centres had to change.
He added: “We accept, as Councillor Anglin would agree, that town centres are changing.
“Retail across the country is changing because of market forces, and because of the rise of the internet.
“We are seeing high street brands going to the wall because of those changing demands and changing economies.
“I think we are doing extremely well on South Tyneside and being driven by Councillor Anglin in terms of getting the region behind the (365) initiative.
“The region will deliver a lot of the financial support we get in terms ot the transport interchange and encouraging investors to come to South Shields.”
Coun Malcolm also spoke about plans for South Shields’ Holborn Riverside, with plans in place for a 1,700 job site specialising in marine, offshore and energy services.
He said: “The riverside is an integral part of what we are trying to deliver.
“The enterprise zone will allow us to attract investment, which will lead to more jobs and increased footfall for South Shields Town Centre, which will deliver a new retail offering.
“We have to accept that the traditional high street that we have grown up with is changing, and isn’t coming back.
“Town centres have to look at new ways to be a focal point of their local communities.
“Creating a new leisure offering and tourist destinations with The Word, and terrific buildings and jobs with the Holborn site, is going to help with that.
“That is the future of town centres, and certainly the future of South Shields.
“We need all the support we can get nationally and regionally as we seek to deliver on that.
“I’m delighted by the support we receive from the retail sector and private sector, and the public.”