Plans to demolish numbers 77-99 King Street, formerly home to businesses such as Mothercare and chocolate shop Thorntons, along with 1 East Street to the rear of them, were approved in early 2020. But work was delayed due to the pandemic.
Passersby, however, will have noticed hoardings going up around the buildings in recent days as preparatory work began, and South Tyneside Council has now confirmed demolition is set to begin.
The council said the buildings were being brought down to ‘clear the way for further development’ and specialist contractors MGL will carry out the work.
The demolition project will take around five months to complete.
Cllr Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “In spite of all the challenges that the last year and a half has thrown at us, work has been going on behind the scenes to make sure momentum continues on our plans for the town centre.
“We know that for our town centre to thrive we need to move beyond retail and create a more vibrant environment.
“We’ve already delivered our multi-award-winning cultural venue, The Word, and our superb transport interchange, as well as significant investment in our ever-popular Ocean Road, and we are continuing to build on these foundations.”
News of work starting comes after contractors announced work was complete on the new Job Centre Plus building, which will house around 65 Department of Work and Pensions staff and provide a range of services.
Cllr Dixon added: “The recent completion of the new JobCentre building on Mile End Road is another key piece in the repurposing of the town centre, freeing up land on the former site on Barrington Street for future development.
“The much-loved Riddicks building, now refurbished, with its distinctive façade retained, will also continue to play a role in the town’s future and we are currently seeking investors’ proposals for the site.”
The demolitions are beginning with asbestos removal and an internal soft strip before the structure is taken down and basements removed.
Cllr Dixon added: “In my community priorities set out earlier this year, we committed to supporting our town centres and villages, and creating the conditions for recovery and investment.
“Regeneration is a gradual process, it doesn’t happen overnight, but South Shields is undergoing a transformation and there is a lot to be positive about.
“We are continuing to create a place where people want to live, learn, work, and visit; which will lead to further community and business investment.”
Tyne Coast College announced in June 2021 that it was working with South Tyneside Council and the borough’s MPs on a the bid to relocate its internationally renowned education facilities to the town centre.
Chiefs stressed the campus relocation project is very much in its infancy, and forms part of a multi-million-pound bid to access funding from Government.
The move would create state-of-the-art new facilities for students and increase footfall in the struggling town centre.