View of Fowler Street West (phase 1)
Running from the Town Hall to the Bus Station, Fowler Street fulfils a secondary shopping role but is a main route into the town for buses and cars and is therefore a key gateway into the town. While enjoying surprisingly low levels of vacancies, the street is of low quality in terms of the public realm and shop-fronts.
While there are many attractive and well appointed traditional buildings at the northern end adjacent to the Town Centre, many have been unsympathetically altered and have a neglected appearance. The quality and vitality of Fowler Street improves closer to the Town Centre with the Denmark Centre and Prince Georg Square.
However, the longer term vitality and viability of Fowler Street will need to be considered and in time it may need to be subject to more radical interventions which could create a new retail area for the town when considered with land to the rear.
To the rear of Fowler Street (west) is a mix of car parks, commercial units and some derelict/vacant sites and buildings covering approx 5.2ha. This area is in need of comprehensive redevelopment if it is to make a contribution to the South Shields offer.
The northern half of the Fowler Street site could accommodate a 60,000 sq.ft (gross) supermarket with parking while a fully assembled site extending to Western Approach would be of sufficient size and scale to accommodate a further 60,000 sq.ft retail park type development.
Ideally, this would complement the Town Centre offer by providing an 'out of town' style offer, primarily around the sale of bulky goods, but on the edge of the Town Centre.
This approach will help to redefine the long term economic function of the Town Centre and will stop spending leakage to Gateshead, Sunderland and North Tyneside retail parks.
In bringing this forward, the Post Office on Keppel Street would need to be acquired as this would 'unlock' the site and provide the opportunity to create a strong link directly into the heart of the Town Centre.
However, the development of this land in isolation of the other central Town Centre sites would undermine the long term vitality of South Shields as a retail destination. Therefore the phasing of any new comparison retailing will need to be carefully considered. If this site were to be brought forward for A1 comparison retailing (as we wish to see in the Town Centre) then we would also need to ensure that any development was not in direct competition in terms of brands/offer with new retailing brought forward in the Town Centre and that developer confidence in our proposals is not undermined.
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