Demolition is now officially underway on Wouldhave House, a 1960s eyesore building in South Shields Market Place. The demolition, which will take place over a 14-week period, marks the first stage of South Shields 365, South Tyneside Council's ambitious plan for renewal of the town centre.
The demolition was launched by Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, and Chief Executive Martin Swales, and is being carried out by Owen Pugh (Contracts) Ltd.
Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "It is only a month since we launched South Shields 365, our £100m masterplan to make the town centre an exciting destination every day of the year - and today we see the first physical steps towards making that vision a reality.
"Retailing has changed and South Shields town centre also needs to change if it is to prosper in the future. We have already had a lot of interest from developers and while change will always raise a few concerns the feedback from local people has been overwhelmingly positive.
"This is another good news story for South Tyneside. Wouldhave House is an eyesore and will be replaced with two high quality buildings, including a new library and cultural centre. We are looking towards a landmark new building with fantastic views of the river and town."
The redeveloped site will offer better links from the market place to the Riverside regeneration area, where construction of the £2.3m Harton Quays Park is already well underway.
Martin Swales, Chief Executive of South Tyneside Council, said: "In spite of difficult economic times, we are continuing to invest in bold and ambitious regeneration plans to deliver growth and prosperity for South Tyneside's residents. South Shields 365 will for the first time, capitalise on the beautiful seafront, together with the riverside and town centre to create a seamless offer for residents and visitors to enjoy.
"A transformed town centre will complement our seafront, where a £16m pool and leisure complex will be completed later this year, whilst a £5m project creating a new promenade and sea defences at Littlehaven beach will start in the next few weeks."
The news follows the recent announcement of regeneration plans for Hebburn town centre, where the Council is taking a lead with the development of a new community hub with a swimming pool, gym, library and customer service centre as well as space for new homes.
For further details of the South Shields 365 masterplan, or to download a copy, visit www.southshields365.co.uk.