Retail revamp for run-down centre?

REDEVELOPMENT...Coun Eddie McAtominey.
REDEVELOPMENT...Coun Eddie McAtominey.

RETAIL giants are poised to launch a multi-million pound development in South Tyneside, council bosses say.

Despite long delays with ambitious regeneration plans for Hebburn shopping centre, there are signs a deal could soon be struck to transform the battered centre.

Rick O’Farrell, head of regeneration and property for South Tyneside Council, told Hebburn councillors that talks are progressing well with potential developers.

Speaking at a Hebburn community area forum meeting yesterday, Mr O’Farrell said: “We are making really good progress in these discussions.

“Things are starting to move and we are getting very close to announcing positive news of a retail developer for the centre and a new community hub.”

Last year, hopes were dashed when protracted talks with national shopping giant Tesco collapsed.

Several rival retailers are now involved in talks with the council about revamping the run-down 1960s shopping centre and creating new community facilities.

Mr O’Farrell added that demolition of outmoded housing behind the centre is progressing well, with several blocks of maisonettes already flattened.

Residents moved out of the maisonettes will be offered priority status at a new 71-property housing scheme in School Street, Hebburn.

Mr O’Farrell said: “Four Housing is the registered social landlord for the scheme and the first houses should be available later this year.”

Coun Eddie McAtominey, a main driver for the regeneration scheme, said: “I believe there is a real desire on the behalf of major retailers to move into Hebburn and that we will see some progress very soon.”