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Work Starts to Transform South Shields Town Centre

South Tyneside’s bold vision for South Shields town centre has reached a significant milestone as work starts on The Word, the town’s new state of the art cultural venue.


Martin Swales (Chief Executive, South Tyneside Council), Cllr Iain Malcolm (Leader, South Tyneside Council), David Wells (Development Director,  Muse Developments)

Martin Swales (Chief Executive, South Tyneside Council), Cllr Iain Malcolm (Leader, South Tyneside Council), David Wells (Development Director, Muse Developments)


The construction of The Word, the North East Centre for the Written Word, is the first stage in the redevelopment of South Shields town centre as part of Muse Developments’ £100milion 365 masterplan.

The Word will boast an impressive range of facilities including exhibition space, 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. The Word will also provide a purpose built home for the region’s writing talent.

Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “The start on site for The Word marks over two years of hard work. Our bold vision will totally transform South Shields and the town centre offer. Linking the activities at the Foreshore with Ocean Road and the town centre will help increase visitor numbers and length of stay resulting in greater expenditure in the local economy.

“It is vital that we do all we can to attract jobs and opportunities for local people and The Word is the first part of that jigsaw with work on future phases already well underway.

“Once completed, The Word will give the region a state of the art cultural venue as well as acting as a catalyst for further private sector investment and future economic growth”

When complete, The Word will be a modern three storey structure near Ferry Street on the Riverside. This phase of the redevelopment will also see much needed improvements made to the adjoining Market Place with resurfacing, installation of a new market canopy, improved lighting and traffic calming measures. There will also be a new 40-space car park on the vacant land at Harton Quays.

Martin Swales, Chief Executive of South Tyneside Council, said: “Our exciting vision for the redevelopment of the town is now becoming a reality. “South Shields is a buoyant and thriving coastal town with tremendous growth potential and we’re about to see that potential realized with Phase 1 of the masterplan now on site.”

“The Word will be a facility of both regional and national significance which will be a design beacon and a catalyst for further private sector investment.”

The redevelopment is being delivered by Muse Developments, one of the country’s leading names in urban regeneration, in partnership with South Tyneside Council.

David Wells, Development Director at Muse Developments said: “We have made significant strides behind the scenes on the 365 masterplan, however getting the physical construction underway is the most significant milestone. “

“Following planning approval we have worked quickly to appoint Bowmer and Kirkland as main contractor, who we are confident will complete the high quality build project.

“The Word will be a superb facility and the first phase in the plans to re-invigorate South Shields. We will continue to work tirelessly on the ongoing regeneration of the town and future phases, creating a vibrant town and a year round leisure and retail destination.”

Main contractor on the project, Bowmer and Kirkland, moved on site in South Shields last week. Bowmer and Kirkland is a national contractor with a regional base in the North East and have already completed several large projects in the region and across the UK including Quadrus at Boldon and the mixed use, retail and leisure development at Friars Walk in Newport, Wales.

Alan Johansen, Bowmer & Kirkland Regional Director, said: “This is an exciting moment for everyone in South Shields. It heralds the beginning of the regeneration of the town and we are delighted to have been chosen as the main contractor to deliver this stunning new facility.”

The Word is set to be open to the public in late 2016 and will mark the completion of the first phase of the 365 masterplan.

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