A South Tyneside businessman says he has been left in limbo as the council pushes ahead with a £100m town masterplan.
Work is under way to build a new South Shields central library and digital hub on the site of the former Wouldhave House office complex in the town’s Market Place.
It’s an unsatisfactory situationRalph Thoburn
The Market Square is also to be significantly remodelled, and planning permission for an integrated bus and Metro transport interchange, on land currently occupied by the Crown Post office and Royal Mail sorting office in Keppel Street, will be sought soon.
Amidt all the ambitious plans, negotiations are ongoing with numerous property owners to acquire buildings needed to ensure the town vision becomes a reality.
And one of the businesses earmarked to move is Thoburn and Chapman chartered accountants, part of the Prime Accountancy group, based at the heart of Barrington Street.
The long-established family firm’s building is to be flattened to help make way for a new cinema, restaurants and retail outlets.
Company director Ralph Thoburn is a supporter of the council’s ‘365 vision’.
But he’s frustrated at the lack of information about the scheme and the timescale for the proposed demolition, which he says is making it difficult to plan for the future.
He said: “The council came and measured up in the building 15 months ago.
“Our understanding is that it is required and that the intention is to purchase the property, but I haven’t had an offer and I have no idea as to the timescale of the work, which would at least be useful.
“We can’t get documents printed with our address on if in a few months we won’t even be here.
“It’s an unsatisfactory situation and leaves us in limbo to an extent. Apparently the council has a relocation team, but I haven’t heard from it.
“In an ideal world we’d like to stay in South Shields, there has been a Chapman and Partners here since about 1895 and most of our staff live around the town, but we do have clients across the North East.
“I support the redevelopment of the town, it’s long overdue, but we need an active dialogue and a timescale so we can make plans for the future.”
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “As with all businesses which are willing to engage with the council, we have been liaising regularly with Thoburn and Chapman via the agent appointed to act on their behalf.
“The most recent contact was in May. Thoburn and Chapman’s premises will be acquired to facilitate regeneration as part of the 365 masterplan.
“The council will continue to keep the business updated, via our respective agents, throughout negotiations.”