Plans for a revitalised South Shields town centre and riverside have been given a major boost, thanks to £20m in government funding.
South Tyneside Council has been awarded the cash from the third round of the Levelling Up Fund, after its package bid was highlighted as being ‘high quality and ready-to-deliver’.
The investment is intended to support three transformational projects: the relocation of South Tyneside College into South Shields town centre; a redeveloped Customs House and cultural quarter; and a flagship Centre of Excellence at the pioneering Holborn Renewable Energy Network.
The plans aim to boost footfall and visitor numbers and showcase the region’s expertise and innovation in low carbon energy.
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council: “This is fantastic news and I’m delighted that government has recognised the strength of our original bid.
“These three inter-connecting projects aim to boost the economic and social recovery of South Shields through culture, skills and the green economy.
“The Borough is playing a leading role in low carbon innovation, and we are creating opportunities right on our doorstep.
“This investment will help us play to our strengths and ensure local people have access to the skills and training to capitalise on new green jobs.
“We look forward to working with government to finalise plans, delivery timescales and project costs.”
The funding is intended to support Tyne Coast College’s proposed relocation into the town centre.
Proposals for the redevelopment of the award-winning Customs House included new classrooms and a rehearsal space, as well as an outdoor performance area.
And a landmark net zero centre at Holborn Renewable Energy Network would provide a venue for educational visits, skills training and research, and become a tourism attraction.
Planning applications for a new multi-million-pound college campus and student accommodation block have been submitted and are due to be determined imminently.
Dr Lindsey Whiterod CBE, Chief Executive of Tyne Coast College, which operates South Tyneside College and South Shields Marine School, said: “This latest funding provides a landmark opportunity for real and lasting progress to be made in South Tyneside.”
Investment into The Customs House and the development of a cultural quarter would help ensure vibrancy day and night, with an enhanced food and drink offer and a stronger link between the town centre and hundreds of new homes on the riverside at Holborn.
Proposed new classrooms and rehearsal and performance space would be available for the college to use as a resource and to help drive student footfall around the town.
Ray Spencer MBE, Executive Director of the Customs House Trust, said: “The Customs House trust is thrilled to be part of these brilliant schemes which will join up and revitalise the riverside, whilst improving our offer to young people and wider the community.
“The projects really demonstrate the strength of partnership working and will result in exciting improvements and outcomes for our residents.”
Government selected the bid from an ‘impressive pool’ originally submitted to Round 2 of the Fund, rather than running a new competition. The bid was backed by the MP for South Shields, Emma Lewell- Buck.
She said: “After being continually overlooked for Levelling Up funding, I’m pleased the Government have finally listened and awarded up to £20 million for South Shields.
“Following the success of our bid to the Department for Education for the South Tyneside College relocation into the town centre, this levelling up funding will not only progress that move, but will also, via the Customs House and Holborn elements, enhance our cultural offer and opportunities in renewable energy.
“Since we originally placed the bid in 2022, the government’s cost of living crisis has led to inflated prices affecting project costs. I will therefore ensure that the Government works with us to guarantee our plans remain deliverable.”
The announcement follows the award of £20m after the borough was named a Levelling Up Partnership Area, and a further £20m for Jarrow from the Long Term Plan for Towns fund.