Building new South Tyneside houses 'is not the work of the devil'

Building new houses "is not the work of the devil" and is key in the economic growth of South Tyneside, a councillor has claimed.

South Shields Town Hall.
South Shields Town Hall.

The comments came as the council education and skills performance panel were given an update on the South Tyneside economic recovery plan in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cllr Allan West, speaking at the panel’s latest meeting, noted numerous plans for large housing developments in South Tyneside have faced criticism on social media, when in fact they are crucial for the area.

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He said: “Some of the comments that appear on Facebook, you would think it’s the work of the devil building houses, you really would.

“I just think we’ve got to get the message across a bit better, there’s nothing wrong in building houses, nothing wrong at all, yes we must alongside that make sure comes the infrastructure.

“It isn’t the work of the devil to build houses, we need good quality housing at all levels in South Tyneside.”

Council officers did note there are currently still “a number” of construction vacancies available in the area.

A presentation to councillors noted key to the foundations of an economic recovery plan in South Tyneside is the need to enable inclusive sustainable growth and “build an economy that does not leave people or communities behind”.

John Scott, from the council economic growth team, said they have recently undertaken a business survey to “gauge the impact of Covid and Brexit” as well as looking at what future pressures they could face.

He said: “We still have a number of challenges in front of us.

“We have as a borough got a number of strengths that we need to play on and take that competitive edge.

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“We’re on the A19, we’re ideally located as a place and in terms of transport links, we need to maximise the fact that we’re on the River Tyne and the opportunities such as offshore energy.

“We really need to promote ourselves and push those facts to maximise the potential investment from businesses that would lead to job creation”.

Officers added positive work to date includes steps to develop the IAMP as a key supply chain, creating the South Tyneside Works employment hub, and starting work on town centre improvements and transforming Holborn Riverside.