Striking new images show vision for South Tyneside College and Customs House in bid for town centre levelling-up cash
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The images, released by South Tyneside Council, show modern South Tyneside College facilities in South Shields town centre and a redeveloped Customs House and cultural quarter, which are at the heart of a £20million bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
The three-part submission also includes a flagship Centre of Excellence at the pioneering Holborn Renewable Energy Network to showcase the region’s expertise and innovation in low-carbon energy.
Borough leaders say the package aims to boost footfall and visitor numbers, foster creativity and culture and provide residents with the skills to capitalise on opportunities in the green economy.
The redevelopment of the award-winning Customs House would see new classrooms and a rehearsal space, as well as an outdoor performance area.
Student accommodation would form part of a multi-million campus as part of Tyne Coast College’s relocation into the town centre.
And a landmark net zero at Holborn Renewable Energy Network would provide a venue for educational visits, skills training and research, and become a major tourism attraction, showcasing the borough’s industrial heritage and expertise in new renewable energy.
A ‘Levelling Up in Practice’ report, published by think tank Onward in July said: “.. the future of South Tyneside lies in the green economy. The council is leading the way on geothermal as a way to generate energy, pumping water around former mining shafts deep underground to capture heat which is then distributed through nearby homes. These harbingers of the new green economy, backed by major industrial businesses and offering the potential for high quality jobs, should be a direct route to levelling up.”
Councillor Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council: “These three inter-connecting projects aim to boost the economic and social recovery of South Shields through culture, skills and the green economy.
“The borough is playing a leading role in low carbon innovation, and we are creating opportunities right on our doorstep.
“This package seeks to showcase our expertise, boost footfall and visitor numbers and ensure residents have access to the skills and training to provide a clear pipeline for new green jobs.
“As recognised in the recent Onward report, South Tyneside has enormous potential to be right at the forefront of the green revolution but we need further support and investment to play to our strengths and ensure local people can gain full benefit from those opportunities. We’re confident that we’ve submitted a really strong bid.”
Tyne Coast College announced in July 2022 it had been successful in its bid for £20million funding from the Department for Education to relocate South Tyneside College from its current site at Westoe into a modern campus in the town centre. The Levelling Up funding would be used create a 138 bed new build accommodation block and for the refurbishment of the Grade II listed 16 Barrington Street building to create accommodation for senior maritime officers and visitors.
Dr Lindsey Whiterod CBE, chief executive of Tyne Coast College, which operates South Tyneside College and South Shields Marine School, said: “The borough of South Tyneside has great but as yet untapped potential to be at the centre of this region’s green revolution and better skills agenda.
“Funding for the first piece in this ambitious jigsaw of innovation, which will see the college and marine school move into the most modern of education facilities, has been secured.
“But it is vitally important the two other projects identified, which have huge positive potential for generations to come, are also fully funded.
“This is a landmark opportunity for real and lasting progress to be made around the green skills agenda in South Tyneside, and I strongly support the council in its plans.”
Leaders say investment into the The Customs House and the development of a cultural quarter would ‘help ensure vibrancy day and night, with an enhanced food and drink offer and a stronger link between the town centre and hundreds of new homes on the riverside at Holborn’.
They say new classrooms and rehearsal and performance space would be available for the college to use as a resource and to help drive student footfall around the town.
Ray Spencer MBE, executive director of the Customs House Trust, said: “Levelling Up gives us a rare to enrich the cultural assets of the borough while driving our creative economy.
“The Customs House is very excited to be part of this hoped-for kickstart to regeneration and the unlocking of the potential that has laid dormant in South Tyneside. New Jobs and new opportunities will be created for our people and place.”
Emma Lewell- Buck, MP for South Shields, also backed the bid.
She said: "As your MP, I have long campaigned for improvements to our town centre. After the success of our bid to the Department for Education for the South Tyneside College relocation into the town centre, this levelling up bid not only progresses that move, but will also, via the Customs House and Holborn elements, enhance our cultural offer and opportunities in renewable energy.
“Together these funds will revitalise our economy, enhance education and skills and increase employment. It has been a pleasure working with the Council on this bid and I am pleased to add my support and sign off for it as it goes to the Government for consideration. It is time the Government proved to us that levelling up is more than just an empty slogan. "