A businessman has vowed to regenerate a rundown corner of a village by demolishing a derelict social club and building new homes.
Kevin Washbourne has been given the go-ahead to flatten Boldon Colliery Workingmen’s Club and build a seven new homes.
He expects demolition of the Station Road building to take place next year and for the development to be completed by mid-2020.
Though delighted at winning planning approval, he admits the scheme has been tainted by the theft of memorabilia from the 100-year-old property.
He had intended to give away items of nostalgia that some club regulars had requested as keepsakes.
Mr Washbourne, who will undertake the renovation with his wife and business partner Cheryl, says two pieces have been taken without approval.
One was an LCL lager sign that hung outside the premises, the other an engraved plate.
Mr Washbourne, 58, said: “It’s fantastic news that I have gained planning permission to go ahead with the project.
“Change is needed and this is definite progress for this part of Boldon Colliery. I am annoyed that items have been taken from the club, especially as I had been approached by a number of people who had asked for them.
“I was quite happy to do that, and it’s a shame that people have taken it on themselves to take these things without permission.
“It seems some people are opposed to change, but it’s got to change. As it stands the club is a health hazard. This development is a great step forward.”
His scheme has won the backing of planners at South Tyneside Council and ward councillor Joanne Bell.
She said: “The club has been empty for such a long time, and I’m pleased that something will finally be done to it.”
A stewards’ house adjoining the club will also be razed to make way for the four-bedroom townhouses.
Mr Washbourne won permission to build in August 2015 on condition work started within three years, but the project failed to take off due to issues with potential business partners.
The club was built in around 1917 but closed about five years ago.