A fresh vision of 21st century travel in and out of South Shields has come alive in detailed new images of the town’s planned transport interchange.
They reveal a state-of-the-art hub that will form the centerpiece of the ongoing £100million South Shields 365 regeneration masterplan.
Their release coincides with council chiefs confirming that all land and properties needed to press ahead with the development had been successfully acquired.
Work is expected to begin in the spring on the interchange, which marks the start of the regeneration plan’s second phase.
This month will also see two major project milestones – the Royal Mail’s move to its new facility at Laygate and the opening of the Post Office’s new branch in King Street.
Coun Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, heralded South Shields 365’s progress.
He said: “Things are moving on swiftly with Phase two of the regeneration and soon people will begin to see activity around the town.
“The Post Office’s new branch on King Street will be opening on September 21 and we know residents are as pleased as we are that it is remaining at the heart of the town centre.
“The Royal Mail’s new sorting office at Laygate is also on track to open later this month.
“We’re working towards appointing a contractor and in the coming weeks demolitions associated with the transport interchange will get underway.
“Things are really starting to gather momentum now and we’re looking forward to starting on site next year.”
The move to push ahead with work on the travel hub comes almost three months after the Secretary of State confirmed a Compulsory Purchase Order made by the council.
Doing so cleared the way for the local authority to secure ownership of remaining assets in the town centre.
It followed planning permission being granted last year for the transport interchange, along with outline planning permission for Phase three.
Phase three will consist of a new retail and leisure development and planned, with work planned to start in the autumn of 2019.
As part of the Phase two shakeup, the Post Office will move in to the former Officers’ Club unit on King Street, which has undergone extensive refurbishment.
Mark Gibson, External Affairs Manager, said: “Our new site will help us to ensure that our customers can continue to access vital Post Office services to meet their needs, from mails and retail to everyday banking services.”
HOW THE 365 PLAN HAS PROGRESSED
In January 2013, South Tyneside Council revealed details of its £100m South Shields 365 regeneration masterplan for the town centre.
The council outlined what it claimed was a bold economic vision for South Shields to become the North-East’s premier coastal resort.
Phase one started three months later, with the demolition of the 1960s eyesore building Wouldhave House in the market place.
By August, Muse Developments Ltd, one of the country’s leading names in urban regeneration, was appointed as the council’s development partner.
The following month, the first phase of the transformation was given the go-ahead by South Tyneside Council’s Planning Committee.
In April 2015, construction work started on the town’s new library and digital media centre – now known as The Word, National Centre for the Written Word – in the market place
And in November, plans for Phase two of the masterplan – a new Transport Interchange - were given the green light.
Planning permission for Phase three, a proposed new retail and leisure offer, is given outline planning permission the following month.
By March 2016, refurbishment of the market place was complete and included a canopy roof around the perimeter of the trading area and landscaping features.
Last October, The Word opened, marking the completion of Phase one of the masterplan.
April 2017 saw Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle take over management of the market place.
And in June, the Post Office announced its branch will move from Keppel Street to King Street.
Later this year demolition work around Phase two will start, with work on the transport interchange set for spring 2018.
Demolition of the existing Metro station will start in the autumn of 2019, with the new retail and leisure development also getting underway.