Construction of the new £21 million transport interchange for South Shields is underway.
Work has started on schedule on the state-of-the-art new facility, which will bring together a modern bus station and relocated Metro station in the centre of South Shields.
The interchange, which will be located on Fowler Street and Keppel Street, is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2019.
The new building will provide access to the bus stops at ground floor level with the Metro platform on the first floor.
It will also include a Nexus travel shop, a retail unit and a toilet and changing facilities as well as two lifts, escalators and stairs to provide improved access to the Metro platform.
The Transport Interchange will provide a new, striking point of arrival into South Shields for both residents and visitors to the town, as well as enhancing connectivity to the various key areas of South Shields.
Part of the funding for the development is coming from the £350m Metro all change modernisation programme.
Managing Director of Nexus, Tobyn Hughes, said: “I’m delighted that work on the new £21m South Shields transport interchange is getting underway. This is a major investment in new facilities for bus and Metro passengers in the town.
“The new interchange will provide a brighter, better and more comfortable environment which we believe will help attract more people to South Shields for shopping and leisure.
"We have worked hard with South Tyneside Council to develop and fund this new asset for South Shields, using money from the Metro: all change modernisation plan. This builds on the investment we have made in South Tyneside over the last few years, including new ticket machines, refurbished stations at Hebburn, Jarrow and Bede and more staff at Chichester and South Shields to assist passengers."
Leader of South Tyneside Council, Cllr Iain Malcolm, said: “This is the next piece of the jigsaw in our vision for the town centre.
“The Word and our other regeneration successes have drawn hundreds of thousands more visitors into the town centre so having top-notch public transport facilities, connectivity and a high quality sense of arrival is vital.
“We are creating the right infrastructure to showcase our redeveloped town centre to residents and visitors.”
The council will work with partners Muse Developments and Nexus, and contractor Bowmer and Kirkland to deliver the project.
David Wells, Regional Director from Muse Developments, added: “We are delighted to reach the next phase of the South Shields 365 regeneration masterplan and see construction begin on the new transport interchange.
“This is a great example of how a holistic approach to partnership working can yield the best results and we look forward to working closely with South Tyneside Council, Bowmer & Kirkland and Nexus over the coming months.”
The interchange is scheduled for completion next summer. Demolition of the existing Metro station will be completed following the construction of the interchange.
Planning permission was granted last year for the transport interchange, as well as outline planning permission for Phase three, new retail and leisure development.
Bowmer and Kirkland, the company which helped deliver The Word in Phase One of the masterplan, will construct the new interchange.
Andy Kinnear, Construction Director with Bowmer and Kirkland, said: “B&K are delighted and excited to have been appointed to construct the new South Shields transport exchange and associated road and public realm works.
“We are looking forward to working with muse and South Tyneside Council again following on from our mutual success on The Word project and we are equally excited and looking forward to building new relations with Nexus.
“We look forward to all parties combining to produce a fantastic new facility for South Shields.”
The project received £9.4m from the Local Growth Deal through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership. The Local Growth Deal is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport across the North East LEP area.