Work to revamp a historic square will begin this month.

The project aims to recreate the Georgian-era appearance of Northumberland Square, in North Shields, and is part of North Tyneside Council’s plans to regenerate the town.

Supported and co-funded by Historic England, the work will take the square back to its original layout, based on a plan from 1826, of footpaths and a perimeter of trees.

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Traditional sandstone paving and cobbled-style paths will be installed along with new contemporary lighting throughout the area.

The scheme will be the first step towards creating a new Cultural Quarter for North Shields, incorporating the square and the top end of Howard Street, offering a new, pedestrian and cyclist-friendly environment.

The new-look square will have open space which could be used for leisure activities and events.

Meanwhile, the development of family housing in the town centre has moved a step closer - the former Unicorn House has now been cleared to give way to new homes.

Coun Carl Johnson, the council's cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said: “These are exciting times for the regeneration of North Shields, with work on the ground really starting to gather pace.

“The reshaping of Northumberland Square, which will hark back to its origins in the late 18th and early 19th Century, will complement the various other projects taking place, such as the redevelopment of the Unicorn House site and recent completion of high-quality new homes in the square.

“The work to the square will create a welcoming modern feel and tranquil, pleasant and more flexible space in this historic part of the town for events, such as the popular Victorian Christmas Market, and leisure activities that everyone can enjoy.”

Work is due to get under way in the week of September 27 and will include removing lighting columns and reducing the number of trees in the square, in line with the masterplan proposals outlined during the public consultation, in order to recreate the original design.

A total of 24 trees are to be removed, including one diseased original. The decision to remove the trees has been taken in line with arboricultural management, the council says.

Artist's impression of how Howard Street in North Shields could look
Artist's impression of how Howard Street in North Shields could look

Opening up the space will allow for an increase in biodiversity, with a range of nearly 5,000 new plants and shrubs to be planted, including a native beech hedgerow around all sides, the authority adds.

New trees will be planted to create a tree-lined boulevard along Howard Street and elsewhere as part of the regeneration, resulting in an overall increase in the total number of trees in the town.

The park area of Northumberland Square will be closed until October when it is due to be reopened to allow for events, including the Victorian Christmas Market.

The first phase of the redevelopment is expected to be complete by summer 2022.

Funding for the project has come from Historic England and The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Getting Building fund.

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