How South Shields could look as new images released in town centre regeneration plans update
Around 1,300 residents have taken part in the ‘South Tyneside Conversation’, a survey launched last year to help inform an emerging masterplan for South Shields town centre.
Pop-up cafés and shops, a cycle rental hub at the ferry landing, green spaces, retail space for small businesses and more activity at the Market Place with a food hall are all being considered as the plan takes shape.
Local people aged 12 to 75 took part in the consultation with consistent themes emerging as residents asked for a relocated college, revamped Customs House, Market Place investment and more spaces for local retailers to set up shop.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council, said she was “delighted” at the level of response and thanked residents for “sharing their exciting ideas and suggestions”.
Cllr Dixon continued :“How we live has changed a lot lately – we work, shop and relax differently and we all know that high streets which rely solely on retail are a thing of the past.
“We’re exploring how we provide opportunities for businesses and traders by making good use of our empty buildings.
“Examples of this, which will feature in the masterplan, include introducing a food hall or indoor market space at one of these locations.
“Residents are also keen for us to improve the waterfront area at Mill Dam so we’re considering pop-up food, drink and retail outlets, along with a cycle hub at the ferry landing.
“Increasing footfall is paramount, and more than 80% of local people agree with us that the college move will be positive, leading to a livelier town centre which will benefit businesses.
“This is about looking to the future and, together, shaping a town centre that appeals to all generations.”
What is proposed for the future of South Shields town centre?
During the six-week consultation, which was launched in October, 2022, the town centre was divided into five ‘zones’ for discussion: Mill Dam, New College, town centre, Coronation Street and Southern Gateway.
A masterplan map sets out strategic sites across the town and ‘fixed’ developments such as South Tyneside College’s proposed town centre relocation.
A planning application is due to be submitted in coming weeks to create a modern college campus spanning King Street and Barrington Street offering a public square, gardens and green spaces.
Council bosses have said the relocated college, with the right infrastructure and transport links, would encourage young people to study in the borough, as well as providing opportunities for mature students.
Cllr Dixon said the college relocation would be “massive” for the borough and would help locals to access manufacturing and green jobs, with South Tyneside “leading on the green revolution”.
The council leader added it was important that future regeneration plans make South Shields town centre a “viable place for all generations”.
Other opportunity sites include a cycle mobility rental hub and café near the ferry landing and a new tourism and cultural development at Harton Quays.
The masterplan will also explore opportunities for outdoor exhibition space, play activities and public art along King Street and will seek to boost activity at the Market Place, building on investment in recent years.
Elsewhere, the Coronation Street zone has been earmarked for potential car park expansion to help maintain a sustainable level of car parking, particularly with the relocation of the college and the redevelopment of other town car parks.
However, this will be reviewed as development comes forward and the council have said the use of public transport will be maximised wherever possible.
The masterplan is also exploring the option of food, drink and retail outlets in pop-ups, as well as enhancing the Customs House with new eateries and increased rehearsal space.
In the ‘Southern Gateway’ zone, to the south of King Street, three out of five people surveyed supported the idea of new homes and green spaces, so these ideas will be taken forward into the masterplan.
Other plans include boosting South Shields’ resident population, with work ongoing since 2021 to acquire land and properties to facilitate the delivery of new homes using £6 million awarded to the council from the Future High Streets Fund.
Upper floors of commercial premises could be repurposed to create homes, along with potential new residential development on Charlotte Street, Winchester Street and Mount Terrace.
The site of the former Central Library is likely to house new student accommodation, with demolition of the building about to get under way.
Parts of Fowler Street could also see a shift from retail to residential uses, as well as public realm improvements and a new ‘village centre’ on the junction with Winchester Street.
Those behind the masterplan have stressed it will be able to adapt to external challenges and funding opportunities, with the council looking to take advantage of new Government funding aimed at ‘place-based regeneration’.
It is also hoped that the council’s regeneration work will attract private sector investment in key parts of the town which are not in the council’s ownership, including King Street.
“The world has changed,” Cllr Dixon added:
“The pandemic accelerated changing patterns of high street retail spend and gave us the opportunity to re-evaluate our plans so that they can be flexible and adaptable to the changing nature of town centres and the market.
“Over the last decade, the council has invested significantly and created the infrastructure and environment to generate confidence in the private sector to invest.
“We will continue to do that, unlocking land for development and focusing on our public realm, while acting as an enabler and influencer and working alongside businesses and property owners to reshape the town centre.
“This is one piece of the jigsaw in the regeneration of our borough”.
What happens next?
The full South Shields masterplan will be launched this summer, with several engagement events planned.
Further consultation and masterplanning for Hebburn and Jarrow is also planned for later this year.