Plans for a new Transport Interchange for South Shields have been given the go-ahead.
Members of South Tyneside Council's Planning Committee approved the application from the Council, Muse Developments Ltd and Nexus, which form part of the next phase of the South Shields 365 Town Centre masterplan.
The decision means that a new "landmark" building on Fowler Street and Keppel Street can be built which will house both the Metro and bus concourse. This will result in the eventual demolition of the existing Metro station and the bus stops on Keppel Street.
The proposed building provides access to the bus stops at ground floor level with the metro platform on the first floor. Designs for the building also include a travel shop, a retail unit and a toilet and changing facilities as well as two lifts, escalators and stairs to provide improved access to the metro platform.
The Transport Interchange will provide a new, striking point of arrival into South Shields for both residents and visitors to the town, as well as enhancing connectivity to the various key areas of South Shields.
Leader of South Tyneside Council, Councillor Iain Malcolm, said: "One of the key aims of the 365 masterplan is to harness regeneration success to increase footfall in other parts of the town.
"This Interchange is a vital step towards this objective which will provide a better visitor experience and encourage visitors to stay longer which will ultimately boost expenditure in the Borough."
"Tobyn Hughes, Managing Director of Nexus, said: "Bus and Metro passengers can look forward to a brighter, better and more comfortable environment once the interchange is built, which we believe will help attract more people to South Shields for shopping and leisure.
"We have worked hard with South Tyneside Council to develop and fund this new asset for South Shields, using money from the Metro: all change modernisation plan. This builds on the investment we have made in South Tyneside over the last few years, including new ticket machines, refurbished stations at Hebburn, Jarrow and Bede and more staff at Chichester and South Shields to assist passengers."
The partnership between South Tyneside Council and Muse Developments is transforming South Shields town centre. Work on the first phase of the £100million 365 regeneration project is already underway with construction of The Word, the North East Centre for the Written Word, on schedule. Developments to the nearby Market Place are also progressing well.
David Wells, Development Director at Muse Developments, said: "We are delighted that the planning application has been approved for the second phase of the redevelopment work in the South Shields 365 Project.
"The new Transport Interchange and transport plan will revolutionise the town, making it far more accessible by making the arrival point into the town far more attractive and connecting the Riverside and Foreshore areas. Our plans will create a Town Centre that will be far more pleasant to visit and will in turn increase the time that visitors and tourists stay in the town. This will all help in achieving the aim of the South Shields 365 masterplan, creating a year round tourist destination, increasing visitors to the area and ultimately boosting the local economy. This is an exciting vision for the future of the town and we are looking forward to seeing the second phase come to fruition."
The committee also approved a separate outline application for the redevelopment of the wider town centre for development of sites at King Street, Chapter Row, Barrington Street Garden Lane and land west of Fowler Street. The land has been earmarked for leisure purposes including a cinema, new shops and restaurants.