VISITORS to South Shields will be able to get their skates on now plans for an ice rink have been revealed as part of the £100m town centre masterplan.
A model of the proposed new £10m Central Library and Digital Hub and the £2m redevelopment of Market Place took centre stage as those behind the South Shields 365 vision gathered yesterday to discuss their plans.
A portable ice rink, to be located in the Market Place at certain times of the year, also forms part of the plans.
Council officials and staff from Manchester-based Muse Developments were among those at the current Central Library to seek public feedback on the proposals.
And they will be back at the same location tomorrow from noon to 4pm as South Tynesiders are again given the chance to view a scale model of the site.
Among those viewing the plans yesterday was Father Chris Fuller, of nearby St Hilda’s Church,
He said: “I was very impressed. It looks an amazing place, a little bit more than just a library, and I think it will enhance the area and be good for youngsters through to older people. It’s a great improvement.
“The shape of the building is good and opens the whole space. The new building marries well with the church.
“It’s not a blot on the landscape. It will look good.”
Steve McIntyre, a partner with FaulknerBrowns, the North Tyneside firm designing the hub, said: “It’s the first phase of the 365 vision for South Shields town centre, and it’s a really exciting step in this regeneration story.
“The first thing is the new library and media centre which looks off across the River Tyne and the regeneration of the Market Square, which is a key part of this part of the redevelopment.
“It really sees the reintroduction of the axis through the old town hall and reinstatement of Dean Street, which is a historic street we discovered on the old maps that we looked at.
“Putting a new library here really helps to tie the town centre and King Street with Harton Quays Park and get footfall linking those two public realms together, while hopefully driving regeneration down through King Street.”
Work is expected to start on the Market Place redevelopment at the beginning of next year and should be complete within two years.
South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm refused to comment on the proposals when asked by the Gazette.
But Coun John Anglin, the authority’s lead member for regeneration and economy, said: “We’ve already had a great response to the 365 consultation, with a steady stream of visitors throughout the day.
“Our vision for South Shields town centre is to make it a place of year-round cultural, leisure and retail activity for residents, businesses and visitors.
“The initial phase of our plan – the new Central Library and Digital Media Centre, and improved Market Place – looks to provide an innovative multimedia centre equipped with the latest technology and community facilities, which will be a destination for our residents and visitors to the borough.
“I’d encourage people from across the borough to come down to the Central Library in South Shields tomorrow and tell us what they think.”
David Wells, development director for Muse Developments, added: “We need all the input we can get to. People’s views will be taken into account.”