Media items: 28186,28187,28188An important milestone in the regeneration of a South Tyneside town has been marked with the completion of the external structure of its new library and digital media centre.
The Word, the North East Centre for the Written Word, forms the centrepiece of the first phase of a £100 million regeneration plan for South Shields town centre in a joint scheme by Muse Developments, one of the country's leading names in urban regeneration and the local authority, South Tyneside Council.
This week the Leader of the Council, Councillor Iain Malcolm and Chief Executive Martin Swales joined Matt Crompton, Joint Managing Director of the Council's development partner Muse Developments, to put the finishing touches to the building at a topping out ceremony.
Councillor Malcolm said: "It is fantastic to see our plans for this new cultural venue come to fruition. With the building structure nearing completion and the exterior weathering progressing, work can now start on fitting out this innovative centre with top-of-the-range equipment which will attract people from across the region and beyond.
"As work gets underway to fit out the building, local people can start to get excited about this new centre which we hope will become a community hub for the people of the Borough.
"We are confident The Word will appeal to residents and visitors of all ages and will help to put South Tyneside on the map as a regional cultural destination 365 days of the year."
The Word, when it opens later this year, will boast an impressive range of facilities including exhibition space, a computer gaming area, design and innovation studio with 3D printers, digitised archives, meeting rooms, children's immersive storytelling area, OpenZone IT suite, café and a rooftop restaurant and terrace providing stunning views over the river. The construction works are being delivered by main contractor Bowmer & Kirkland through their regional office in Houghton Le Spring, and they have a proven track record of delivering high quality projects of this nature nationally.
Matt Crompton, Joint Managing Director of Muse Developments, said: "Today marks an important step in the regeneration of South Shields town centre. The Word will be an iconic, state-of-the-art building that sets the bar for the quality of development and architecture that people of South Tyneside deserve.
"This is just the first stage of the overall regeneration project that will have a positive impact on everyone who visits the town and we are very proud to be partnering with South Tyneside Council in such a bold scheme."
South Tyneside Council has entered into partnership with New Writing North to establish The Word as a real home for North East writing talent. It will host writers' workshops and exhibitions as well as a series of writers in residence.
Claire Malcolm, Chief Executive of New Writing North, added: "South Tyneside Council is making a fantastic commitment to the literacy and education of its residents with The Word. The project enhances the already impressive redevelopments of South Shields centre by bringing a new building with great value to fruition, as well as celebrating the many successes of local writers."
The Word, the North East Centre for the Written Word, is the centrepiece of the phase one of the South Shields 365 regeneration. Works to improve the Market Place have also been carried out to make it a civic space for the 21st century. This has included fitting a canopy over the stalls and installing new paving and street furniture.
The second and third phases of the regeneration scheme have also been given the green light when councillors gave planning permission for a new Transport Interchange and retail and family leisure offer. The new Interchange building on Keppel Street will house the Metro and bus concourse and will provide a striking point of arrival to South Shields town centre.