Upgrading North Shields Town Centre

North Shields town centre has rapidly become a building site as the planned regeneration works shift up a gear. So what’s going on?

I’ve been pressing for money to be spent on upgrading the town centre for years, long before I became a councillor. The first tranche of funding to develop the Masterplan was an important step forward but there was a danger it would just be a fancy plan that sat on the shelf gathering dust. Anyone who has read Malcolm Rivett’s fanscinating book about North Shields and Tynemouth “The Plans That Never Happened” will appreciate this point. So, I must give credit where it is due to Mayor Norma Redfearn, her cabinet members, the Regen team, and colleagues from the North of Tyne Combined Authority. They have worked their socks off to bring in over £40 million of external investment into the area in order to fund the schemes.

My recent focus in relation to the regeneration work has been of challenging those overseeing the work to improve communication with the public. I was picking up quite a lot of comments from people expressing a frustration at being in the dark about what’s happening. I’m pleased to have seen a noticable shift in the level of comms and engagement now taking place. It’s very helpful to have the visual hoardings up on Bedford Street around the old Co-Op site, and on Norfolk Street around the old Unicorn House site. There is now also a new monthly e-newsletter being published that you can subscribe to by emailing AmbitionNS@northtyneside.gov.uk and putting ‘subscribe’ in the subject line. The latest edition is available by clicking here.

Ultimately Town Centres need be busy as they thrive on footfall. Internet shopping and the impact of the pandemic has been a double-whammy, resulting in much reduced visitors. That’s why, of all the changes happening at the moment, I think I’m most excited about the new Transport Hub. In modern times we’ve all become accustomed to comfort and convenience. This absoutely applies to public transport. Closer connections between different forms of transport, new greener buses and a new Metro fleet coming soon all bode well for the future. The changes to the town centre are all about making it a place people want to be, rather than try to avoid. The increase in passing trade generated by the new Transport Hub is one of the key things expected to give local entrepreurs the confidence they need to open the new businesses that residents want to see.

Work on demolishing the old Co-Op is expected to happen early in the new year, after which construction of the new Hub ought to quickly begin. I’ve heard a provisional date of spring/summer 2023 for its opening. Until then, be assured, I’ll be monitoring its progress very carefully.

Watch a video fly-through of the new Transport Hub here

%d bloggers like this: