Plans to help make way for up to 200 new homes in South Shields town centre are gaining momentum.
South Tyneside Council is using £6 million awarded through the Future High Streets Fund to acquire land and properties needed to facilitate the delivery of new residential development.
The council has completed its first acquisition, of the former Beautiful Homes premises on Burrow Street, and negotiations are ongoing to purchase other buildings.
Preparations are also underway for demolitions, including of the old Central Library on Prince Georg Square and the former Broadway Carpets shop, with tendering for both sets of works expected in the coming months.
The Future High Streets Fund is part of a government drive to help local authorities diversify town centres uses through capital investment.
Cllr Mark Walsh, Lead Member for Regeneration and Economy, said: "Our regeneration plans are centred on boosting footfall and increasing the residential population will mean more people spending time and money in the town centre.
"Over the last decade, we've invested in infrastructure and facilities, such as our award-winning cultural venue The Word and our transport interchange.
"Now we're focused on unlocking land and preparing sites for redevelopment, to continue to create the right environment for private sector investment.
"We know that the high street that is centred solely around traditional retail is a thing of the past and Covid has accelerated some of the challenges and struggles town centres were already facing. Town centres need to evolve into places people want to live, work and visit.
"South Shields is a unique riverside and coastal community and we're capitalising on its strengths to help create a sustainable future."
As well as dilapidated properties being demolished, where viable, vacant buildings will be refurbished and brought back into use to help diversify the high street.
In key priorities set out earlier this year, the council made commitments to support town centres and high streets, and to invest in the built environment.
The plans also include improvements to the public realm and creating a pedestrian-friendly environment to complement the ongoing wider town centre regeneration work.