Muse Developments, one of the country's leading names in urban regeneration, and South Tyneside Council have appointed contractor Bowmer and Kirkland to undertake the construction of The Word, South Shields' new library and digital media centre.
Bowmer and Kirkland is a national contractor with a regional base in Sunderland and has undertaken many projects in the North East including Quadrus at Boldon, the new Trinity Square in Gateshead and various buildings at Cobalt Business Park.
The construction of The Word, the North East Centre for the Written Word, is the first phase of the wider redevelopment of South Shields town centre as part of the 365 masterplan. The masterplan will transform the town; increasing the shopping and leisure offer in addition to improving the way people travel to, from and around the town.
The Word will provide an improved library offer and interactive exhibition space that aims to provide a home not only for the North East's writing talent, but to become a real community hub for the people of South Tyneside.
In addition to the construction of the three storey building near Ferry Street on the Riverside, this phase in the redevelopment of South Shields will also see improvements made to the adjoining Market Place and a new 40 space car park constructed on the vacant land on Harton Quays. This includes resurfacing, a new market canopy and lighting as well as traffic calming.
Following the appointment of Bowmer and Kirkland, construction is set to begin imminently, with the aim of the building being open to the public in late 2016.
Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: "We're delighted to have Bowmer and Kirkland on board to help deliver our ambitious regeneration masterplan. Their appointment represents a significant milestone and a major step towards making our vision a reality.
"Bowmer and Kirkland are based locally and South Shields 365 will help to provide employment for people across the region. It is vital that this significant regeneration project helps to boost economic growth and job opportunities for local people. We have therefore ensured that Bowmer and Kirkland investigate using local contractors wherever possible and that they look into employing locally-based labour.
"The Word is going to be a state-of-the-art facility which will inject renewed vitality into the town. Now work will begin in earnest to get the physical build underway."
Martin Swales, Chief Executive of South Tyneside Council, added: "We welcome and look forward to working in partnership with Bowmer and Kirkland who are going to bring this exceptional facility to life.
"South Shields is a buoyant and thriving coastal town with tremendous growth potential and we're about to see that potential realised as Phase 1 of the masterplan starts to take shape.
"The Word will be a facility of both regional and national significance which will be a design beacon and a catalyst for further private sector investment."
David Wells, Development Director at Muse Developments said: "We are delighted to have appointed Bowmer and Kirkland as our main contractor on the Word. We have worked with Bowmer and Kirkland on many projects and they have a proven record of delivering a high quality product.
"Once complete the Word will be a superb, modern high-tech facility which, together with the improvements in the Market Place, will be the first stage in reinforcing South Shields town centre as a place to visit for both shopping and leisure".
Bowmer & Kirkland Regional Director, Alan Johansen added: "We are delighted to be involved in this prestigious project. Our experience in delivering many other regeneration schemes in the North East enables us to provide a construction team that will work hand in hand with all stakeholders to ensure a smooth delivery and a project that we can all be proud of."