This is how North Shields could look - if potentially transformative plans are given the go-ahead

Ambitious plans for a new transport hub in North Shields’ town square and a walkway linking the town centre to the Fish Quay have been submitted.

The proposals are part of North Tyneside Council’s ‘Ambition for North Shields and the Fish Quay’ project, aimed at breathing new life into the town centre and riverside and providing the right environment to support businesses, leisure users and retail.

Community groups, residents and businesses have all been asked for their views to help refine the designs ahead of the plans officially being lodged.

The proposed transport hub will provide a modern and convenient high-quality facility bringing all bus services in the town together and closer to Metro, taxis and cycling infrastructure – making it easier for people to choose cleaner, green forms of travel.

The proposals also include local amenities such as public toilets and a Changing Places facility.

The proposed North Shields Transport Hub.The proposed North Shields Transport Hub.
The proposed North Shields Transport Hub.

The site will also feature a new open town square for events and leisure activities with new planting, creating much-needed green space in the heart of the town centre, increasing biodiversity in an urban environment.

Improving on the current stepped route, the proposed walkway will provide improved accessibility and a safer link between the improved town centre and Fish Quay.

It will feature green open spaces and different route options to suit different needs, including step-free routes and steps with handrails, as well as a direct route from top to bottom via steps.

Both schemes are subject to a successful funding bid to the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) through the Department for Transport.

This is how the new town square could look in North Shields.This is how the new town square could look in North Shields.
This is how the new town square could look in North Shields.

Cllr Carl Johnson, Deputy Mayor of North Tyneside, said: “We are committed to transforming North Shields into somewhere people want to live, work and visit to help sustain the town for years to come.

“We’re now starting to see these ambitions coming to fruition with work getting underway on the ground. These are really exciting times for North Shields and there’s every reason to be optimistic for the future.

“Our investments in the proposed transport hub and town square and embankment walkway are absolutely vital to improving connectivity and helping create a vibrant and sustainable shopping environment, which will help attract new investment in the town.

“We have been sharing our plans with local communities and incorporating their feedback into the designs and will continue to listen to what people tell us as the projects evolve.”

The North Shields Masterplan, which was adopted by Cabinet in January 2021, following a full public consultation, features eight separate projects aimed at breathing new life into the town centre and attracting more people to live, work and visit as well as attracting private sector investment.

Sustainability and clean, green practices and credentials are at the heart of the design process across the Masterplan in line with the council’s climate change ambitions.

Work from the council hopes to see the borough being carbon net-zero by 2030.

This is how the new embankment walkway would look, if plans get the go-ahead.This is how the new embankment walkway would look, if plans get the go-ahead.
This is how the new embankment walkway would look, if plans get the go-ahead.

It is hoped that the transport hub will become the first net-zero carbon building in North Tyneside and design work to achieve this is ongoing.

The facility has been designed with sustainability at the forefront through the use of materials, solar energy and the way surface water quality is managed.

Both schemes will be delivered by appointed construction partner Wilmott Dixon.

Nick Corrigan, North East Director for the firm, said: “We are proud to be playing our part in delivering a project that will be a catalyst for the regeneration of the town centre and create a new gateway for the people of North Shields. It really is a dynamic and sustainable design which will create a vibrant and innovative space for local people.

“Sustainability is at the heart of our business and through our 2030 ‘Now or Never’ sustainability strategy, we have pledged that by the end of 2030 all our new buildings and major refurbishments will achieve net-zero operational carbon. The transport hub is a perfect example of how we can achieve those ambitions.

The proposed embankment walkway site.The proposed embankment walkway site.
The proposed embankment walkway site.

“We are focused on leaving a lasting legacy beyond bricks and mortar and that’s why we will be supporting the North Shields economy by using local businesses and creating local employment opportunities wherever possible.”

A separate application to demolish the former Co-op and Marie Curie buildings in Bedford Street, leading to Railway Terrace, to make way for the proposed transport hub and town square has also been submitted.

Sophie Shannon, Director at NewRiver, responsible for The Beacon Shopping Centre, said: “The past 18 months have undoubtedly been a challenging period for so many and whilst we were sad to see a handful of our stores close their doors at the centre in recent months, there is cause for positivity too as we have welcomed three new tenants in the last few weeks.

“On a larger scale, we are excited about the proposed changes for North Shields town centre, and we look forward to working with North Tyneside Council further to build on the initial changes that are already underway.”

Elsewhere in the town work is progressing to redevelop Northumberland Square and Howard Street as part of the Masterplan project.

Aerial view of proposed Transport Hub and Town Square. Aerial view of proposed Transport Hub and Town Square.
Aerial view of proposed Transport Hub and Town Square.

The project involves taking the square back to its original layout of footpaths and a perimeter of trees, creating a new pedestrian and cyclist-friendly environment and cultural scene on the top end of Howard Street.

In addition, the site of the former Unicorn House office block has been cleared ready for a new high-quality housing development. Work on building the new homes could start in Spring 2022 and take around 12 months to complete.