Demolition is progressing fast at Wouldhave House, the 1960s eyesore building in South Shields Market Place which is being flattened as the first stage in the town's £100m regeneration.
The 14-week programme, which is being carried out by Owen Pugh (Contracts) Ltd on behalf of South Tyneside Council, is making rapid progress having started at the rear of the concrete-framed building.
The first stages in the process saw contractors removing the electrics and carrying out 'soft stripping', to remove internal fixtures and fittings. The next stage - removing concrete panels, taking the roof off and then removing the three floors in turn, has been completed on the rear section facing Ferry Approach.
This 'front to back' progress will continue, with additional screening added to the building's frontage to control dust caused by the demolition.
Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "It is great to see the demolition moving ahead so fast, as this is a key step towards a better future for South Shields town centre. Wouldhave House is an eyesore which we plan to replace with two high quality buildings, including a new library and cultural centre. In spite of difficult economic times, we are investing in bold and ambitious plans to deliver regeneration and jobs for the borough."
The demolition is part of South Shields 365, a £100m masterplan aiming to make the town centre an exciting destination every day of the year, with a new cinema, library, retail and leisure facilities.
The redeveloped site will create better links from the market place to the Riverside regeneration area, where construction of the £2.3m Harton Quays Park is already well underway, and the seafront, which is set to benefit from the £16m Haven Point pool and leisure complex and a £5m project creating a new promenade and sea defences at Littlehaven beach
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.