‘Soft opening’ planned for new South Shields transport interchange

.
.

Transport bosses are planning a ‘soft opening’ for South Shields’ new transport interchange next summer.

Work on the £21million scheme, which will combine a new bus and Metro station for the town, began in April.

And the brains behind the plans are confident that if work can continue on schedule they should be able to begin accepting passengers next year.

Speaking to South Tyneside Council’s Place Select Committee this week, Paul Archibald, the council’s regeneration manager, told members this could then allow a ‘soft opening’ to allow facilities to be tested before being officially opened.

Related: South Shields Metro passengers face up to 10 months of disruption

He said: “We hope to have the building watertight by November and if we can do that before the bad winter weather hits we think we’ve got a good chance of hitting target.”

He added: “We don’t want to open a building and then on day two the lighting goes or the lifts stop working.”

The scheme, which is part of the wider South Shields 365 project, is intended to regenerate the whole town centre by improving public transport and access to shops.

Following the completion of the new interchange, demolition of the current Metro station is planned to take place between late 2019 and early 2020.

And work on Keppel Street and the surrounding area is expected to be finished by Summer 2020.

Mr Archibald added: “People say ‘why aren’t you cracking on with the shops?’

“But until we divert the buses we can’t free up the space.

“Although it’s not the primary site, it’s fundamental to the next phase.”

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service