Business is set to boom on an iconic South Tyneside street thanks to a multi-million pound revamp.
The major improvement scheme on Ocean Road, South Shields - famous for its rich array of restaurants, guest houses and B&Bs - has been hailed a success by council leaders and traders alike.
A wide range of environmental improvements have been made to the area - including better street furniture, the creation of new gateway features and the removal of signage and clutter.
The new road layout has involved the road width being reduced with better positioned parking bays as well as the creation of a new free car park.
Former traffic calming measures have been removed to aid traffic flow and reduce congestion and a new 20mph limit introduced.
Footpaths have also been widened on the southern side, high quality paving installed and boulevard-style rows of hornbeam trees have been planted as part of the wide-ranging scheme.
The regeneration project has aimed to make the street more pedestrian friendly and inviting for residents and visitors, in turn, helping to draw more seafront visitors to the town centre and to create better links between both areas.
The £3.5m transformation of Ocean Road has been delivered by South Tyneside Council alongside its partners, which include Balfour Beatty, Northumbria Water, Glendale Services, Seymour Civil Engineering Contractors and Owen Pugh Construction.
It is all part of an ambitious bid to South Shields the region’s premior coastal resort.
Councillor John Anglin, Lead Member for Regeneration and Economy at South Tyneside Council, said: “Ocean Road is one of the Borough’s most important cultural assets and attracts millions of visitors every year. It also acts as a key link between South Shields Town Centre and our stunning seafront with the changes aimed at helping to provide better connections for visitors and improving trading conditions for businesses.
“We have been watching the new look Ocean Road take shape for many months now and are thrilled to see the work completed. It looks fantastic and is sure to help bring a welcome boost to the area in terms of business and tourism.”
Improvement work has also involved the installation of six new pieces of public art at key junctions along Ocean Road. These include three large sculptures depicting a girl, boy and Roman soldier directing people to local attractions as well as three clusters of smaller pieces representing the traditional element of a seaside town – fish, ice cream and boats.
The enhancement work has also coincided with a major flood prevention scheme led by Northumbrian Water in the Ocean Road area and nearby North Marine Park.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Area Management at South Tyneside Council, said: “We are delighted with the work to give Ocean Road a fresh new look and feel.
“The spruce up makes the whole street scheme more attractive while the new road layout has helped to create a safer environment with better parking facilities. The flood prevention works have also been essential for a street that faced repeated flooding at times of heavy rainfall.
“We would like to thank local traders for their patience during the scheme. Now the work is complete we look forward to reaping the real long term benefits it will bring to the town.”
The tree-lined Ocean Road is home to numerous restaurants and guest houses.
Scott Carlucci, Owner of The Clifton Hotel, is among the local businesses to welcome the improvements. He said: “The improvements are fantastic and pave the way for future success. They make the street look more attractive and glamourous, helping to bring vitality to the area and even encouraging businesses to smarten up their own premises. The new art work has also become a talking point among visitors. Our customers have been commenting on how lovely the street looks and how much they like South Shields and the seafront.”
William Smith, Owner of Smith’s Chippy, added: “Ocean Road looks great considering how it looked a few years back. The work that has been carried out has made a massive difference to the whole street and is sure to bring benefits to businesses in the area.”
Councillor Anglin added: “The Ocean Road scheme takes the Council one step closer to realising its ambition to make South Shields the region’s premier coastal resort.
“The project follows on from the opening of our new Harton Quays Park on South Shields Riverside, our fabulous new seafront leisure centre Haven Point, and the wonderful new Littlehaven Promenade and Seawall development.
“It is also an intrinsic part of the wider transformation of South Shields Town Centre, where regeneration work continues to progress well and construction work on our superb new library and digital media centre, The Word, is right on schedule.”
For further information about the regeneration of South Shields visit www.southshields365.co.uk