South Shields wins £6m boost from Government high street fund to lure in shoppers
Vacant and run-down buildings in the heart of South Shields could be demolished or refurbished thanks to a major government grant.
Ministers have set aside almost £6 million for the town as part of the Future High Streets project to lure shoppers and visitors back after the coronavirus pandemic.
And South Tyneside Council is expected to add a further £1.4 million from its own pocket for the scheme, which could create 200 new homes within walking distance of the town centre.
Tracey Dixon, leader of the borough council, said: “This funding is an extremely welcome boost and will support the significant investment that has already gone into revitalising South Shields Shields town centre.
“The high street that is centred solely around traditional retail is a thing of the past and Covid has accelerated some of the challenges and struggles town centres were already facing.
“We recognised some time ago that for our town centres to survive, and indeed thrive, they need to evolve into places where people want to live, work and visit.
“Increasing the residential population will mean increased footfall – more people spending time and money there, using services and supporting businesses to create a sustainable future.
“This funding will enable us to capitalise on the town’s strengths as a coastal community with a wonderful blend of cultural, heritage and leisure assets.”
South Shields is one of seven towns across the North East to have been allocated a combined £98.5 million from the Future High Streets fund.
On Boxing Day (2020) it was confirmed that Sunderland would receive £25 million through the scheme, while the latest allocations also included Middlesbrough, Stockton and Loftus, in Teesside.
Local Growth Minister Luke Hall said: “This Government is committed to boosting economic growth across the regions as we build back better from the pandemic.
“Over £98 million from the Future High Streets Fund will help transform areas in the North East, from enhancing green spaces and developing a workspace hub and museum in Loftus, to creating new leisure and retail amenities in Stockton on Tees.
“This investment will revive towns and cities across the North East, bringing new jobs and first-class public services to the area.”