A TEN-year plan to spend £100m revitalising South Shields has been unveiled.
The South Shields 365 scheme will see major demolition work as the town centre overhaul is carried out, as well as the creation of a new cinema, library and retail and leisure facilities.
Council planners say they want to improve the riverside, the foreshore and the town centre, including hopes of attracting “a quality hotel with conferencing facilities”.
Alongside this comes ambitious plans to reverse worrying trends which show that for every £100 residents in the borough have to spend just £3.10 is spent in South Shields.
Council leaders say that within 10 years they will, as well as rebuilding the face of South Shields, be well into a year long programme of regular cultural events.
That tourism push is also linked to improving seaside events and features, in a bid to attract more holiday makers. The regeneration projected will be funded through regular council contributions, alongside hoped for Government and European grants and a potential bid to the region’s local enterprise partnership for support.
Council leader Iain Malcolm said: “South Shields has tremendous potential and this masterplan is about making sure that it is realised. We are ambitious for South Shields and we have to play to its strengths.
“We have a beautiful coastline, a magnificent riverside and a unique and very welcoming community and these are powerful assets that we can build on to secure a bright future for our town centre.
“Like high streets across the country, South Shields town centre is facing major challenges as a result of the rise of online shopping, out of town retail parks and the tough economic climate.
“It has become very clear that the town centre needs to change if it is to prosper. We cannot turn the clock back.”
Those plans will see eyesores such as the 1960s Wouldhave House brought down, with work on that site starting next month.
In its place will be two buildings, a library and new office space with a passage way in between to allow views down to the river.
Announcing the plans yesterday, Mr Malcolm added: “We know this will create jobs in the construction phase at least, but what is just as important is that we build on the 1.8m visitors we already have a year and see that grow significantly over the next 10 years.”