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Spanning the country

Priority Sites specialises in the development of new business space in partnership with landowners, regional development agencies, local authorities and businesses. If you wish to discuss opportunities for working with Priority Sites, please contact John Kipling/Tony Staincliffe on 01977 520505 Priority Sites is currently active in the following areas of the North East: Media Exchange, Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle Loadman Street, Elswick, Newcastle Apollo Court, Monkton South Business Park, South Tyneside A different kind of property development company_


newcastle’s regeneration magazine issue five: spring 2009

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Welcome to Newcastle These are exciting times for Newcastle ! There’s over 600,000 sq ft of office space planned in the next few years representing an investment of £1.23 billion in the office market alone. Added to this an estimated £500m is to be invested in the 17ha East Pilgrim Street Development with £170m already invested in the refurbishment Eldon Square Shopping Centre and £600m earmarked for the 8ha Science Central development on the old Newcastle Brewery site. This all adds up to a significant commitment from developers and investors, sharing our vision for an ambitious programme of regeneration of our city centre over the next 15 years and we will work with the public and private sector to match that with an equally ambitious programme for our communities across the city.

round-up: What’s new, hot and happening in Newcastle and Tyneside

Four-star facelift for brewery

Home sweet home

The iconic former home of Scottish and Newcastle breweries is to be transformed into a brand new four-star hotel, adding to the impressive Downing Plaza regeneration scheme, which will also feature offices, a student village and retail space. Vancouver-based Northland Properties has bought the 13-storey Gallowgate building, and plans to create a 169-room hotel in its place, to be called Sandman Signature. The refurbishment, due to be completed by summer 2011, is set to create around 150 jobs, and represents the beginning of a European expansion by Canada’s largest privately-owned hotel group. Mitch Gaglardi, director of Sandman Hotel Group UK, said: “Our company is excited to be bringing the Sandman Signature brand to Newcastle, and to the UK. We are expanding, and Gallowgate provides us with an ideal site in a viable marketplace.

“Newcastle presented us with characteristics that we found unique in the UK, things like the population of the city, its level of autonomy in the region, its business and tourist draw and, of course, favourable market conditions.” Tourism is growing significantly in the city, with both visitor numbers and employment in the sector on the up. And this is reflected in the number of hotel developments being brought forward in Newcastle. In addition to Northland’s redevelopment of the Gallowgate area, Jury’s Inn announced it is to build a 200-bed hotel on the Gateshead Quayside. The Staybridge Suites long stay hotel is close to opening on Gibson Street, the Crowne Plaza hotel is due to be created in the Stephenson Quarter and a Holiday Inn Express will be built next to the Baltic Business Quarter. (For more on hotels in the city see page 20)

New council houses are to be erected in Newcastle for the first time in more than three decades. The city council announced 300 houses are to be built across 13 council-owned sites. And there may be more to come, as sites in Benwell, Blakelaw and Gosforth could be added to in the future. A new charity will also be set up to assure spaces in council-owned houses for future generations, after losing 15,000 houses since the 1980s as a result of the right-to-buy initiative and demolition. Bill Shepherd, Newcastle Council executive member for regeneration and housing, said: “This is the first proper programme of house building the city has had for 35 years. We have an opportunity to build houses for the first time in Newcastle, on redundant, brownfield land owned by the city council. There’s a huge, latent demand for affordable and social housing.” 0

round-up continued

Building a green future Newcastle College has announced plans to create a campus specifically designed to train ‘green’ construction workers. The college hopes to build the multi-million pound Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Construction and Renewable Energy on the former Siemens site, Shields Road, Heaton. The council, which owns the site, is supporting the college’s plans. As the world of construction focuses more on sustainability, graduates will be ideally equipped to understand the techniques and technologies at play in the coming years. Colin Stott, director of construction automotive and land-based studies at Newcastle College, highlights the development’s regenerative potential: “It is expected to contribute significantly to the economic prosperity of the region as well as to help develop a more highly skilled workforce in the construction industry and the wider supply chain. “It will also contribute to the region’s growing leadership on sustainability and add value to existing expertise in the region.” The new campus will take students from September 2011.


Education, education, education Leading local architect Dewjoc has delivered an innovative vision for a groundbreaking school being built in Monkseaton, North Tyneside. The £18.5 million school is to feature triangular classrooms and large open learning areas for almost 1,000 pupils aged 13-19. Ian Lancastle-Smith, Dewjoc director leading the project, said: “This is an exciting and challenging design project that maximises the use of space and encourages teaching and learning in a modern, state-ofthe-art environment. We are very much looking forward to seeing the design becoming a reality. “It has been a rewarding experience working closely with the school’s management team, staff and students on all aspects of design, environment, teaching and learning spaces, with support

from the Children, Young People and Learning Board at North Tyneside Council, an essential element of the design development process.” In a bid to aid learning, the school has been designed to ensure people using the building enjoy maximum levels of natural ventilation and sunlight. Its basic design envisages an educational community stacked within a large protective shell. Meanwhile Gateshead Council has announced plans to invest £8 million in the town’s primary schools, after receiving cash from the government’s £800 million education fund. The money will be spent on nine of the area’s primary schools, with a demolition and new-build taking place at Barley Mow Primary School, and refurbishment work being carried out at eight other sites. The money will be spent

between now and 2011, with refurbishments due to take place at Emmaville, in Crawcrook; Crookhill, St Agnes’ and Greenside, in Ryton; Swalwell, in South View Terrace; Birtley East and Ravensworth, in Birtley; and Eslington in Hazel Road. Councillor Catherine Donovan, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This is an investment in the future of not only our children and young people, but also Gateshead’s workforce. “Our programme of development will take into account the significant progress already made in our primary schools, and this means that all primary renewal will be set in a community context, taking into account local priorities and meeting local needs.” For more on the Building Schools for the Future project see page 16.

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feature markets

Vital statistics Newcastle’s residential, commercial and retail facts and figures, from house prices to rental yields, and forecasts of what’s to come. By David Gray Economic situation With the nationalisation of Northern Rock (based in Gosforth) in September 2007 and the lay-offs at the large Findus frozen foods plant in January 2009, Newcastle has felt the force of the downturn. Fortunately, though, the local economy is well diversified with a strong public sector, both very positive factors in present circumstances. The city had an economically active population of 127,100 in June 2008. Although the employment and self-employment rates (59% and 5.9% respectively) remain below both regional and national averages, Newcastle’s claimant count in November 2008 was slightly less than the rest of the North East (3.8% compared to 3.9%). Weekly earnings are higher than elsewhere in the North East (£444 compared to £421 in 2008), but still some way below the national average of £479. Labour demand remains relatively high and the workforce is well qualified (30.4% at NVQ4 and above). Almost one-quarter of all employees work in IT, finance and business activities and there is also a higher than average proportion in public administration, education and health. The strong public sector will be important during the coming two to three years, especially in support of construction and infrastructure projects. Newcastle City Council in January 2009 announced a £21 million package to help the local economy, including £7 million to be spent on roads and an extra £4 million for housing across the city.

Residential market Newcastle has obviously not escaped the national housing market downturn, but the contraction thus far is not so severe as in many other cities. Figures from the Land Registry for the metropolitan district show a comparatively modest fall of 10.5% in average sale prices between November 2007 and November 2008 (from £145,091 down to £129,81). Looking ahead through 2009, Richard Sayer, RICS housing market spokesman for the North East, believes the region will do better than most of the rest of the country. “The decline is likely to be closer to 15% than the expected national decline of 25%,” he says. “If access to mortgage funds becomes easier, I anticipate sales will increase from the all-time low of 2008.” While private housing has unavoidably slowed, during 2007/8 there were still 845 gross completions of new homes in the city, the third highest rate in more than twenty years. The build rate is expected to fall to around 600 homes in 2008/9 and to around 450 in 2009/10. However, George Mansbridge, head of housing delivery and partership management at the council, advises the new housing programme takes a longer-term perspective and the council’s housing trajectory is for the build rate to rise steeply to more than 1,000 per annum from 2011/12 onwards. To this end, the council and its partners are making excellent progress towards the delivery of much-needed affordable homes during the downturn as well as preparing sites for housing development once the market improves.

Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) has become the first housing organisation in the North East to receive the maximum three star rating from the Audit Commission and is working in partnership with the council to build new homes. YHN’s Modern Homes programme is working to ensure ‘the vast majority’ of the city’s public housing exceeds government ‘decent homes’ standards by the end of 2010.

During 2007/08 there were

845 gross

completions of new homes Newcastle City Council announced a

£21 million package to help the local economy

Economically active population of 127,100 0

markets feature

Grade A office accommodation is

£22-24 per sq ft

Commercial market Despite the national lack of confidence in commercial property, the North East is still seeing rents holding steady in many sectors, according to GVA Lamb and Edge’s first regional review in December 2008. Property rental growth of 0.2% is expected for 2009, with an increase to 1% in 2010. Mike Cuthbertson, GVA Lamb’s regional director, says “the regional economy is more diverse and consequently more robust than it has been in previous downturns” and out of town business and industrial parks in particular were still performing strongly. The Cobalt Business Park on North Tyneside is a good example. Already the UK’s largest such park, it let over 285,000sq ft in 2008 to clients including GE Money and Newcastle Building Society. The city and surrounding area are still proving attractive to both large and small businesses. According to Lambert Smith and Hampton’s (LSH) commercial property report for 2008, Newcastle saw a total take-up of more than 420,000sq ft in the first three quarters of the year and, considering market conditions, this compares well with the average annual take-up of 650,000-700,000sq ft in recent years. LSH estimates current availability at the beginning of 2009 of 2.33 million sq ft, of which 1.04 million is either new or refurbished space. There have been four major developments completed in the city centre in 2008: East Quay (35,000sq ft), West One (44,000sq ft), St James’ Gate (14,000sq ft) and Baltimore Place (40,000sq ft). Looking

ahead, the two largest projects for completion in 2009 are Wellbar Central in Gallowgate (120,000sq ft) and South Shore Developments’ Baltic Place (131,000sq ft). Headline office rents for city centre Grade A accommodation are £22-24 per sq ft and holding up, although landlords are now offering greater flexibility in terms. Out of town rents are much lower at £13 per sq ft or less, but Cobalt Park achieved £16 per sq ft in 2008. In the industrial market there is a shift from freehold to leasehold and prime rents are in the £5-6 range, with secondary space available for £3 per sq ft or less.

Out of town rents are much lower at

£13 per sq ft

Prime rents in the city centre remained at

£325 per sq ft

Retail market Newcastle city centre, together with the Metro Centre at Gateshead, remains the retail magnet for the whole of the North East. According to Experian’s 2008 sales rankings, Newcastle’s shops came 12th nationally and the Metro Centre on its own was in 27th place. Total comparison spending during 2008 is estimated to have been £1,433 million for Newcastle city centre and £1,089 million for the Metro Centre. Average retail expenditure per head in the North East during 2008 was £4,353, according to Colliers CRE, which also reports that retail rents held up better in Newcastle than many other cities. Prime rents in the city centre remained at £325 per sq ft through 2007 and 2008, while the rent level at the Metro Centre actually rose from £335 to £340 per sq ft in autumn 2008. Rents in Sunderland, by comparison, are much lower at £205 per sq ft and in areas such as Washington and South Shields are below £100 per sq ft. In out-of-town retail, Newcastle’s Silverlink Retail Park has seen rents rise from £32.50 per sq ft in 2007 to £42.50 per sq ft in 2008. There is still a substantial retail development pipeline in Newcastle. The third phase of Capital Shopping Centres’ Eldon Square scheme is now under construction and due to provide 410,000sq ft of retail space, anchored by a 175,000sq ft Debenhams store, by spring 2010. East Pilgrim Street, seen as the next area for major retail expansion, is the subject of a major planning exercise with interim planning guidance being finalised for publication next spring. n


Pilgrim Street: A new vision for the historic heart of Newcastle

| Open spaces

| New hotels

| New shops

| City centre offices

| CafĂŠ culture

| Private apartments

| Fine dining

| Residential accommodation

For more information contact Mark Robinson, Development Director, Brookfield Europe on 0191 231 6010


cdc feature

www c



Moving forward Special purpose vehicles such as NewcastleGateshead City Development Company are becoming more common. David Blackman uncovers the implications and expectations for the North East’s latest initiative In April 2007, when plans for the NewcastleGateshead City Development Company (CDC) were first unveiled, the first news of the US sub-prime housing market’s problems had just started to trickle across the Atlantic. Those problems sparked off the credit crunch, which has transformed the environment within which the CDC is being set up. It seems that Newcastle may be less exposed to the downturn than places which experienced a bigger residential building boom, such as Manchester and Leeds. But none of the UK cities is immune from this recession – including Newcastle. A report to a November 2008 meeting of Newcastle’s executive said that by August that year unemployment across the city was up to 3.5%, meaning an extra 750 people out of work compared to the previous November. The CDC’s remit has always been to tackle some of the

deeper factors which held back the Newcastle/Gateshead economy even during the recent boom. As Professor Stuart Gulliver pointed out in a report for the city council, which laid out a framework for the CDC, much of Newcastle/Gateshead area’s recent growth was led by property development. The biggest problem the city faces, according to Gulliver, is the “modest scale and dynamism of the indigenous private sector”. The area has seen rapid growth over recent years in professional business services, especially legal and property firms. Some have established a national profile, helping to enhance the city’s image and position as a business centre. While creative industries, including games software development, have emerged, they remain relatively small scale activities. As a result, the area remains disproportionately reliant on a combination of several very large companies and 11


the public sector. The formation rate of new firms is 68% of the UK average. And the proportion of the workforce in selfemployment is even lower, at 65%. Reversing the underpowered nature of Newcastle/ Gateshead’s private sector and turning the area into a magnet for investment is “probably the current number one economic challenge” for the area, wrote Gulliver. The Newcastle/Gateshead area’s second big structural problem is the relatively low availability of people with the right skills and capacity to generate ideas; in other words, its human capital. So how will the new CDC lift the performance of the underperforming Newcastle/Gateshead economy? For a start, the CDC has been set up with the specific purpose of boosting the economic development of Newcastle/Gateshead as a single entity. At the CDC’s launch Newcastle council leader John


Shipley said: “We know from both common sense, and from recent years’ experience of joint projects, that the two areas can achieve more by working together as neighbours on certain projects than either could do by going it alone – and our economic future is certainly one of those areas”. CBI North East director Sarah Green agrees that the CDC’s geographical reach better reflects the nature of the cityregion’s economy. “Business doesn’t recognise administrative boundaries,” she says. “What business needs is good facilities, easy routes to getting investment managed, a faster planning system and confidence in what’s happening between local authorities.” To help build that confidence, the CDC will have an important role delivering the strategic vision for Newcastle and Gateshead through the production of an economic masterplan. This will be different from the traditional masterplans that


planners use to guide physical development. Instead it will identify the activities which will generate the area’s economic growth, and the strategic priorities that will sustain those activities. Using this framework, it will establish a set of investment priorities for the CDC and its partners including the regional development agency One North East, which is providing financial support for the CDC. The company will also have a delivery role designing, managing and executing agreed key strategic projects within the urban core that will stimulate economic growth and development and delivering targeted investment marketing and business winning on these key projects. It will add value by adopting a highly focused approach and bringing in highly skilled teams to deliver. “It will help to give us a long term vision across both sides of the river,” says David Slater, Newcastle Council’s director

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33 3 33 of regeneration. “We will be bringing together national and international experts who will give us different priorities.” The council will retain its statutory responsibility for planning matters but will be working in conjunction with Gateshead on a joint evidence base for the Local Development Framework to ensure the city’s development plan aligns with the CDC’s economic masterplan. The CDC has already started to look at a number of the partner’s ongoing areas of interest including resolving the ambitions for a convention centre for Tyneside. The new organisation itself will bring in the additional expertise to enable the area’s local authorities to deliver, says Slater. It will be a lean body with no more than 15 to 20 staff. The aim is that this small team will be a high powered one, drawn from a wide range of backgrounds and experts in a variety of disciplines, complementing rather than displacing expertise within the local authorities. These include former minister of state for housing and planning Lord Falconer, who is the CDC’s first chair. Alan Clarke, chief executive of One North East, welcomes the appointment of “such a high calibre chairman”. The CDC’s recently appointed chief executive is Jim McIntyre, who previously worked for Gladedale Capital, the commercial and mixed-use development arm of one of the UK’s leading house building companies in Scotland. His most recent project was the completion of the first three phases of the company’s £500 million Quartermile scheme in Edinburgh. He has also worked on projects in Glasgow and Aberdeen. “He’s got a very good track record in commercial development in the private sector,” says Slater. And the board’s non-executive directors bring a wealth of political and business experience. Alongside renowned architect and Newcastle native Sir Terry Farrell, the board boasts Northern Rock chief executive Gary Hoffman and Sir Hugh Sykes, former chairmain of the urban regeneration company Sheffield One. With this team, Slater believes the CDC will play a key role in helping Newcastle and Gateshead fight the downturn. “It’s fundamental to the joint ambitions that Newcastle and Gateshead have for the city,” he says. “All that has happened to the economy has made the need for this more important”. ■




ÈK_\jdXcc k\Xdn`cc Y\X_`^_$ gfn\i\[fe\# [iXne]ifdX n`[\iXe^\f] YXZb^ifle[j Xe[\og\ikj `eXiXe^\f] [`jZ`gc`e\jÉ


Cooperâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Studios, a truly inspirational environment.

Unique, contemporary office space In the heart of the City of Newcastle, available to rent now on a floor by floor basis or as a whole.

The redevelopment protects and preserves important historical features whilst allowing us to provide one of the most technically advanced buildings in the city.

All floors are open plan and are arranged around a spectacular central atrium. Ground Floor 522 sqm First Floor 461 sqm Second Floor 531 sqm Total 1,514 sqm

COOPERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; S 3 STUDIOS A Grade II listed building, designed by Ryder Architecture for the way we work now.

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feature schools

Building success The government’s Building Schools for the Future programme is achieving major success in Newcastle. Pamela Buxton finds out more

Newcastle’s schools are being transformed. After three years of planning and construction, the £200 million investment in the city’s schools under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme is starting to bear fruit as new and refurbished schools open their gates across the city. The BSF scheme will transform learning environments making them more suitable for contemporary and future teaching and learning needs. Last autumn, the first six BSF schools in Newcastle opened and will be followed by two more this year. Phase two consists of eight schools currently at planning stage and due for completion in 2011. By then, all existing secondary schools in the area will be rebuilt or refurbished, as well as several primary schools. According to Councillor Nick Cott, executive member for children and young people, BSF is about far more than replacing old buildings with new ones. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to 16

transform the way our young people feel about their school. National research has shown huge increases in the number of children who feel proud of their school, who enjoy school more, and who plan to stay in education longer after transformation work at their schools.” The new school buildings have already had considerable impact. “Schools will always be less about buildings and more about the people inside them, but the change in our school since the new building opened has been phenomenal,” says Walkergate primary school head Don Smith. “It’s really lifted the whole school, there’s just such a happy, welcoming atmosphere everywhere now. “The new building has had a really positive impact on our pupil’s learning and a specifically-designed autismfriendly environment is a lot more relevant to their needs,” agreed Thomas Bewick head Audrey Lindley. “We now have a much bigger and more spacious building, and that increased space and

new facilities have led to a real sense of calm and focus across the school, which our children are really responding to.” The Newcastle BSF programme incorporates a previously approved PFI project and is being delivered via a local education partnership between Newcastle City Council and private sector partner Aura, which is designing, building and maintaining the new PFI schools together with the planning and construction of the refurbished schools. Aura consists of architect Parsons Brinckerhoff, Robertson Capital Projects, Sir Robert McAlpine and the Partnerships for Schools investment arm BSF Investments. The council has a 10% stake in Aura. US firm Parsons Brinckerhoff’s track record includes acting as construction manager on a 14-school redevelopment programme for the New York City School Construction Authority. The company is design manager for all the Newcastle projects, and architect for several. Aura has brought in other

schools feature

Opposite page: Walbottle School’s design references Hadrian’s Wall. This page: Stocksfield, another of Newcastle’s new schools.

architects - including local firms Ryder, White Design and B3Burgess - to work on parts of the programme. As well as providing appropriate physical environments for current teaching methods, the new buildings will need to respond to the changing learning needs of young people. In broad terms, this means incorporating the latest digital technologies, and flexible spaces to accommodate extended after-school use. “We’re looking to provide flexibility to adapt in the future but not to create an environment where teachers can’t teach from day one. There has to be some familiarity,” says Gary Jemmett, director of architecture at Parsons Brinckerhoff. The hope is to improve on the recent rise in academic attainment; GCSE results over the past five years show a 25% improvement and a third more students staying on for A levels. School environments have a direct impact on pupil behaviour, according to school improvement advisor Michael Quincey of Newcastle City Council, who is providing educational expertise to the Newcastle BSF programme. “If pupils go into a scrappy, run-down and generally unpleasant environment, no matter how good people are at delivering education, the environment will have an impact,” he says. But new facilities, he adds, will only help if they provide what the children need to learn, and are high quality. For children to take “ownership” of a new school, for example, the school must be high-tech and relate to childrens’ everyday highly-digitalised lifestyle. The BSF programme goes beyond the bricks and mortar, to deliver three of what Aura describes as Transformational Products with each school. Transformational Product One (TP1) creates vocational learning opportunities. TP2 is a £192,000 project that gives schools the freedom to build on a particular strength in a way that might not otherwise be possible. Each school is given £7,000 a year for two years under TP2; topics covered so far include engaging children with books and disseminating ICT expertise. TP3 utilises the construction project as part of the curriculum, with pupils encouraged to consider materials and construction methods. With the second phase of the BSF programme still being planned, Jemmett is looking forward to closer collaboration

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform the way our young people feel about their school” with schools: “It would’ve been nice to have time with schools without being in a bid situation. With phase two we’re starting to get that.” The sheer scale of the project has been extremely challenging, especially the logistical difficulties of keeping the schools open while the building work goes on, since all the schools bar one are being built on existing sites. In the case of West Jesmond Primary School, this has involved Aura relocating the children to a vacant school across the city and laying on ten coaches a day to transport the pupils over a 14-month period. In terms of design, the emphasis is on flexible environments that facilitate learning. “Often you can look at a building and say ‘that must have been built in 2008’ or ‘that’s a Victorian building’.” says Bill Potts, commercial manager of the council’s BSF programme. “We want to avoid this and create schools which will move with the times.” Each school has, or will have, its own distinctive design features. At Walbottle, for example, the school has a curved spine with departments coming off it like a series of fingers. In reference to the nearby Hadrian’s wall, the curve will form a timescape from Roman times to present

day and a local artist will create a mural reflecting various epochs over that time. The BSF programme is an opportunity to embrace best practice in sustainable design. All schools will have biomass boilers and building management systems which will provide data to assist pupils in learning about energy and sustainability as well as high standards of insulation and energy efficient measures such as lights that only work when a room is occupied. In phase two, the hope is to build Newcastle’s first carbon zero school at Sir Charles Parsons school, which will benefit from sharing services such as broadband with other schools on the new Walker Technical Campus. Last year, 7,500 children in Newcastle moved into new state-of-the-art school buildings. This year and for the next two, thousands more will benefit as the Newcastle BSF project completes. The project’s legacy will be widespread and well worth the considerable investment, according to Potts. “The programme offers manifold benefits for students and the people of Newcastle, but ultimately our key aim is raising the aspirations of the city’s population and transforming life chances for its young people.” n 17

h c r a e s e r r u O g n i e g into a today

Joan Hughes, Research Nurse, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Means keepin g Tom healthy tomorr ow

Tom Stonely, Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne.

We have been running an 85+ study for 2 years through our research at the Institute for Ageing and Health. This study has taken all those born in 1921, sampling their DNA and identifying biological markers to see what sort of shape theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in. Armed with this knowledge, we can apply science to help us counteract health issues associated with ageing and do more to address the factors associated with the disease of growing old with the fastest growing demographic group in the country. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a healthy advancement in science for the future. The future is happening right here in Newcastle Science City.

Science is the future. The future is here.

kenton school case study

Two thousand pupils at Kenton School, one of the largest secondary schools in the country, are now enjoying their new school building, designed by architect Parsons Brinckerhoff as part of the aura organisation. The 19,000sq m steel-framed three-storey building has five teaching blocks splaying out from a connecting crescent-shaped building. Public-facing facilities such as the drama hall and dining rooms are on the inside of the curve with a circulation street for pupils on the outside. The sports hall, provided for the school and wider community with the help of lottery funding, sits nearest the road for maximum visual impact. It features a distinctive double-curving wall and contains a hall of six badminton courts, as well as an all-weather sports pitch, gym, fitness suite and PE classroom. “It’s a piece of sculpture in the landscape that we hope is quite memorable,” says Gary Jemmett, director of architecture at Parsons Brinckerhoff. The school also incorporates performing arts facilities including a large performance area, specialist music rooms and dance studios. With such a large building it was important to break down the bulk of accommodation and the rigour of the window pattern, according to Jemmett, so each wing has its own design vocabulary of coloured panels. The new facilities

were built alongside the old building. When this is taken down and landscaped, the buildings will look out onto green space, with scope for outdoor teaching and performance. The new school is appreciated by pupils and staff, according to head teacher David Pearmain. The previous building was typical of its time with no provision for ICT, inadequate science provision, and no equal opportunities access to workshops or cookery facilities. Despite alterations, it was no longer fit for purpose. “We loved the old buildings because they were our home, but our new building will allow us to offer cutting-edge education, which will be modern in the breadth of our vision for learning, but also reassuringly traditional in our encouragement of civilized personal values,” says Pearmain. More pupils are taking part in sport and more are having school dinners as a result of the new facilities. Permain says that, overall, pupils seem more engaged in learning and more civilized in their behaviour as a result of the more sympathetic environment. “The new building has a clear identity and is well designed and organised for the benefit of students and staff and for the modern curriculum.”

“The building itself is a piece of sculpture in the landscape”


feature hotels


hotels feature

Staying power Newcastle’s hotel market has enjoyed a boom that is set to continue thanks to high numbers of tourists and business visitors. Noella Pio Kivlehan investigates

Ten years ago A headline in Newcastle’s local newspaper The Journal declared a “boom in hotels” in the city. At that time, stated the paper, Newcastle had “2,050 top quality hotel rooms, with an average yearround occupancy rate of 77%”. But a raft of proposed hotel developments in Newcastle and on Gateshead riverside would add up to more than 1,400 new rooms, it forecast. But the hotel market has surpassed expectations. An economic impact study, commissioned by Tourism Tyne and Wear, together with the councils of Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside and Sunderland, was published in May 2008. It stated that hotel numbers in Newcastle and Gateshead have increased by almost 70% in the past five years with the addition of 12 new hotels and serviced apartments. The two cities now boast over 5,000 hotel rooms. New hotels over this period include Jurys Inn, Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, Premier Inn, greystreethotel, Express by Holiday Inn, Jesmond Dene House and Kensington House Aparthotel in Jesmond, although the latter was built too recently to be included in the study. The need for new hotel space has been attributed to several things, including a rise in business travellers and tourists, massive regeneration projects, more travel to football matches, and the expansion of Newcastle International Airport. “The growth [in the hotel sector] has been down to the corporate demand and our role as a regional capital, plus the fantastic range of cultural and retail attractions Newcastle and Gateshead now boast,” says Zoe Gray, planning officer, city centre development team at Newcastle City Council. Although hotel stock has increased, until last year there was still a lack of top quality hotels – particularly in Newcastle. The city, through the council and NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), has identified the need and is striving to bring in changes. A recent turning point was the 42-bed Hotel du Vin, which opened in October 2008. The converted quayside building – formerly the home of the Tyne-Tees Steam Shipping

Company – gave the city what it longed for: an up-market boutique hotel (see p24). Gray says Hotel du Vin “is the type of hotel we are after. We have lots of different strands of demand, but in the past the city was lacking this kind of upper tier, boutique hotel”. NGI chief executive Andrew Dixon agrees. “We want more four-star boutique hotels,” he says bullishly. “We have benchmarked ourselves with Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester – but we don’t have any five-star hotels at the moment.” However, there are moves to add more up-market hotels in the coming months. Dixon mentions a new airport hotel, which he says will be a big name brand, and the InterContinental Group’s Crowne Plaza being planned as part of the Stephenson Quarter development. With the UK in the midst of an economic downturn and businesses tightening their belts on travel budgets, there is concern that Newcastle and Gateshead could overstock their own markets. Dixon seeks to give reassurance. He says that despite nationwide forecasts for a gloomy 2009, the region’s hotel market is still healthy. “We track hotel occupation in over 30 hotels daily. While it was down 1% in September and October, occupation is still one of the highest in the UK. We are on a par with London. Our benchmark shows that we have good hotel stock as we are showing very high occupancy and good yields.” A key difference is that the region is in better condition than it was 15 years ago, during the last recession. In the last decade there has been significant office and retail development and regeneration projects in both Newcastle and Gateshead. Attractions and landmarks, ranging from Newcastle’s Centre for Life (opened in 2000) to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge (2001) and the Sage Gateshead (2004), plus a massive improvement in the public realm with the continued development of both quaysides, have seen many top bars and restaurants come to the area. It is no surprise that the city’s tourism economy is growing. Serviced accommodation short breaks are particularly 21

feature hotels

“We’ve seen a 42% growth in hotel bed space since 2002. It’s been steady, not boom and bust, so our purpose is to continue that growth” strong with Irish, Norwegian and German visitors and tourists arriving via Amsterdam, plus business travellers attending conferences. Following the huge success of the Sage there are plans for a purpose built conference and exhibiton centre in Newcastle or Gateshead. There is no doubt, says Gray, that “the Sage in Gateshead is generating demand for larger conferences”. A study is underway to assess the feasibility of a purpose-built conference and exhibition centre in Newcastle. “We are looking at the viability of where that might be, but there’s no time scale yet – it’s early days as it’s such a huge public funding project,” says Gray. “We are certainly growing as a conference destination. Three out of four hotels here now have conference facilities.” NGI’s economic impact study predicts that growth in hotels will continue. A further 1,100 rooms are in the pipeline for development over the next five years. As Dixon points out: “The study 22

reveals demand will remain for the next 10 years. Hotels follow business development and tourism growth. There’s more work needed to put in retail development and business [accommodation]. Developers are very keen to come in to the area. We are already fending them off and there are more interested. However, I suspect one or two may have to rethink how they are going to finance their plans.” The report elaborates: “There is more possibility for new serviced accommodation on the outskirts of Newcastle and Gateshead with hotels linked to the development of new business parks, the expansion of Newcastle Airport and other key drivers of demand such as the MetroCentre, Newcastle Racecourse and Gateshead Stadium.” Hotels figure strongly in two of Newcastle’s most significant development projects: the 4hectare Stephenson Quarter, behind Newcastle Central Station, and East Pilgrim Street. Silverlink won planning permission for the £200 million

redevelopment of the Stephenson Quarter in November 2008, and plans to start building this summer. The project includes a 250-bed, four-star hotel. Although the operator is yet to be confirmed, there is a strong suggestion that it will be Crowne Plaza. That company is part of the Intercontinental Hotel Group, which is building a Staybridge Suites aparthotel on Gibson Street, due to open in April 2009. The Stephenson Quarter hotel is scheduled to open at the end of 2011. The Stephenson Quarter will also include an as yet unnamed boutique hotel, alongside 155 apartments, art gallery space, new public squares, shops, offices and restaurants, creating at least 2,500 jobs. Meanwhile, the East Pilgrim Street area, right in the city centre, has also been assessed as having the potential for two hotel sites. The hotels are included in long-awaited proposals for a retail-led regeneration scheme, finally unveiled in October

2008. The development covers almost 17 hectares tucked behind Pilgrim Street and New Bridge Street. Both the Stephenson Quarter and the Pilgrim Street projects have strong links to the Quayside, which Dixon says is the most popular part of the city for developers and investors. With the recent focus on fulfilling demand for prestigious hotels, is there still room for budget brands? “Inevitably there will be more budget hotels,” Dixon acknowledges. “Travelodge do have more planned. But our real gaps are at the higher end.” At both ends, though, NGI’s message is that Newcastle and Gateshead are in the market for hotel development for the long term. “We’ve seen a 42% growth in hotel bed space since 2002,” says Dixon. “It’s been steady. It’s not boom and bust, so our purpose is to continue that growth… We want steady, sustained growth and if we can achieve that then we will have succeeded in our goal.” n

Main picture and top right this page: Jurys Inn offers a restaurant and bar Above: The Kensington Aparthotel offers respite for longterm visitors.

Previous page: Hotel du Vin, the city’s first boutique hotel, opened last year.



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Thriving communities, affordable homes The Homes and Communities Agency, or HCA, is the single, national housing and regeneration agency for England. We bring together the development and regeneration expertise of English Partnerships, investment functions of the Housing Corporation, and the Academy for Sustainable Communities, with major delivery programmes of Communities and Local Government. Our role is to create opportunity for people to live in high quality, sustainable places. We provide funding for affordable housing, bring land back into productive use and improve quality of life by raising standards for the physical and social environment. Our priorities for the North East are to: � Invest to deliver new and affordable homes in partnership with local authorities, registered social landlords and the private sector � Work with public sector partners to deliver new infrastructure � Work with developers, registered social landlords and local authorities to assist in comprehensive estate development and renewal � Unlock surplus public sector land and brownfield sites for housing developments. This will include former coalfield sites and surplus NHS land � Maintain a strong investment programme to support quality, design and environmental standards and encourage the development of new schemes for affordable housing. For more information on how we can help you create thriving communities, please visit: call ���� ���� ��� or email


Fek_\dfm\ 9lj`e\jjYffdj`eZ`k`\jk_XkXi\XYc\kf[\c`m\i\Xj\ f]dfm\d\ek%@]E\nZXjkc\`jkfi\kX`e`kjgfj`k`feXj fe\f]k_\eXk`feËjgi\d`\iliYXeZ\eki\j#`dgifm`e^ fe`kjXci\X[p`dgi\jj`m\glYc`ZkiXejgfike\knfib`j \jj\ek`Xc%9p8c\o8jg`eXcc THANKS TO ITS RELATIVELY uncongested roads, a reliable bus service and the excellent Metro system, Newcastle’s transport network is often held up as one of Britain’s finest. It has played a major role in facilitating the city’s growth, and is of central importance in Newcastle’s regeneration plans. Richard Hibbert, head of transport strategy at Newcastle City Council, says: “Transport planning is a critical part of Newcastle’s regeneration. In the city region we take the view that we need to ensure that there is connectivity, both within the region and into the national network. “The big issue is access to learning and employment opportunities. That is where we have very strong links to public transport agendas. We have exceptionally high public transport use in Newcastle, probably only bettered by London. The challenge is to sustain the public transport use as the city becomes more populated and more prosperous.” This neatly summarises what Newcastle’s transport-based regeneration aspirations are all about. The planned changes, and those already under way, are all geared towards ensuring the network is able to continue delivering its excellent service well into the future.



That’s not to say that the city can be complacent. It is currently underttaking a hugely ambitious modernisation of the Metro network. This is an epic project split into three phases of delivery, the third of which will not begin until 2019. But progress is already being made. Phase one, which got under way last year, has seen the creation of a new station in Simonside, the modernisation of Haymarket station, and new ticket machines and barriers being installed, among many other initiatives. This phase of the redevelopment, which is worth £55.2 million, will be completed in 2010, when phase two of the scheme takes over. The second phase is worth £300 million and secured government approval in summer 2008. It will bring even more visible change to the network, with major upgrades to a number of stations, the refurbishment of 90 Metrocars, the overhaul and refurbishment of bridges, tunnels, tracks and overhead power lines and the modernisation of the network’s technology systems. Phase three, which is yet to secure funding, is likely to begin as the second stage meets completion, and will see the final pieces of the puzzle put into place. It will provide a brand new fleet of Metrocars, a new signal system, a new generation of ticket

machines and further general station improvements. Co-ordinating the transformation of the Metro network is a big undertaking. In some respects it is a greater challenge than building the Metro in the first place: the work must be carried out in a way that has as little impact as possible on the people of the city. At Nexus – the company responsible for Metro’s operations – director general Bernard Garner explains that shutting down the system for 20 years, while the upgrades, take place is not a viable option. “There are two major challenges we face in upgrading the Metro system,” he says. “The first is physically doing the work while at the same time continuing to operate. In engineering and logistics terms that is probably the single biggest challenge. We work at night. Haymarket, which is used by six million passengers a year, is a good example. We do not allow passengers on at Haymarket after eight at night but it is open for the first train the next morning at 5am. It doesn’t have a huge impact on people because there are other stations they can use in the central area. “The other issue we have is that while Metro in its current state is 30 years old, we do use some infrastructure that is older, much of it Victorian. Outside the central areas we are using Victorian



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embankments and viaducts. It is important to understand the condition of the Victorian infrastructure, and to be able to work with it.” No project of this scale can be carried out by a single organisation. Developers, landowners, service providers, the local authority and the people of the city must all co-operate to facilitate Newcastle’s improved infrastructure. “Partnership working is massively important,” says Garner. “Looking at Haymarket again, it is a partnership because a private office and retail development is being built on top of the station. The developer is funding the majority of the work on the station. The relationships with that developer, the highway authority and our other partners are important. It takes an awful lot of people to bring these upgrades into reality. “Co-ordinating this is a substantial challenge but the prize is great. Without reinvigoration, I could not guarantee Metro would be around in five to ten years, underpinning the local economy as it does now. The prize is Metro being there for its 40 million passengers, and the people of Tyne and Wear having a very high quality public transport system.” The Metro system has served the Newcastle city region extremely well since it was established over three decades ago. The city owes its relatively congestion-free streets to its subterranean transport network. But that network needs to keep up with the city’s ambitions. “If the city is successful it is going to get busier, and that is the key challenge,” says Hibbert. “Managing that growth is leading us into some very interesting areas that could fundamentally change how the city feels in some places. That is quite exciting, and I am very optimistic about it. “We have the advantage of being able to plan for the future. Some cities that have boomed ahead of us in the past decade face problems that we don’t. These problems don’t exist in Newcastle now but they may become apparent if we don’t make the right decisions over the next five to ten years. It is prevention, rather than cure, that we are looking for.” ■


Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re investing more than ÂŁ300m in...

Jobs Education Retail Leisure modernising Tyne and Wear Metro

feature credit crunch



News of recession, job losses and financial worries might have become a daily occurrence but is it

How can a city avoid the worst effects of the current financial downturn and emerge stronger once the recession is over? A massive and complex question to which there is no easy answer, but it’s one that local authorities around the country (and indeed the world) are trying to address. Newcastle is no different and has opted to tackle the economic slowdown head-on. As city treasurer Paul Woods explains: “We are facing a £5 million pressure on our revenue budget as a result of increased costs and reduced income. Our income from capital receipts is between £20-25 million less than expected over the next three years. Despite this we are maintaining capital investment and increasing revenue spending by filling gaps in resources with use of reserves and balances and additional temporary borrowing. We are also achieving almost £20 million of efficiency saving to offset cost pressures. “It might have been easier to say we need to cut back, but for the well-being of the city it’s important the council shows leadership and vision. We are working with the universities, the college and health care organisations to help the city through the recession.” Of course Newcastle alone cannot avoid what is a global trend. But when Renaissance asked Ivan Turok, a professor in urban economic development at Glasgow University, what advice he would give cities for withstanding the recession’s worst effects, the North East conurbation was ticking many of his suggested boxes. “Obviously it’s very difficult for local authorities which have nothing like the power of central government, but – put very simply – there are four strategies they can adopt,” he says.


“The immediate priority is to stem job losses wherever possible. In the 1980s, unemployment reached over three million and this had lasting social and economic effects. Businesses must be helped wherever possible, whether that is by offering advice, trying to persuade banks to lend to firms or encouraging major employers to retain their workers.” Not only has Newcastle Council kept council tax increases below the national average, it is also speeding up payments to businesses and offering small businesses the chance to benefit from rate relief – a scheme which should generate £500,000 of savings over the next few months. Back in September, regional development agency One North East announced a £10 million package to help firms deal with liquidity problems by offering access to funds where traditional lending sources had dried up,

providing help with energy costs, help for companies who wanted to grow their business but could not access the cash to do so and free expert advice on tax and credit issues.

“Newcastle has a massive capital investment programme totalling around £280 million”


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Haymarket Hub Newcastle upon Tyne Start on site May 2007 Developed by Closegate A Joint Development by Closegate, Tolent and 42nd Street Realty Ltd.


Alderman Fenwick's House, 98 -100 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6SQ 0191 211 2700

Back on the market

Refurbished homes on a Newcastle estate have been snapped up by eager buyers within weeks of going on sale. Your Homes Newcastle, Newcastle City Council and Bridging NewcastleGateshead worked together to revamp the New Mills estate in the north west of the city using funding from Bridging NewcastleGateshead and the Government's Single Housing Investment Pot. New Mills was built in the 1970â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and contains a mixture of one and two bedroom flats as well as houses. It contained pockets of low demand properties and parts of the estate were also blighted by anti-social behaviour.

The revamp involved demolishing a block of properties to create a family friendly open space in the heart of the estate, with another block of flats receiving a complete internal and external make-over to convert them into family housing. The properties were converted by Mansell Construction Ltd and all nine allocated for sale were snapped up within seven weeks. Buyers said the affordable price, high quality workmanship and good location close to the city centre had persuaded them to part with their cash.

"We are delighted with this scheme because it offered local people the chance to buy affordable homes in a popular area. The improvement work has been completed to a very high standard and by converting unpopular flats and bringing them back into use as family homes the whole area has been regeneratedâ&#x20AC;?. Your Homes Newcastle Area Investment Manager Stuart Bagnall

universities feature

Building the future

Adrienne Margolis discovers how Newcastle’s universities are changing the face of the city through major capital investment programmes

City centre universities make an important contribution to the urban atmosphere, and Newcastle is no exception. And the scale of university building projects taking place now is having a huge impact on Newcastle city centre, with many improvements benefiting the wider community. In the first decade of the 21st century, Newcastle University will have invested £300 million in new facilities and public spaces. “The university is a major landowner in the city centre, where we have a 20-hectare campus,” director of estates Clare Rogers explains. “We are currently undergoing the biggest construction programme in the university’s history. Most of it is around the Haymarket, which will transform the northern approach to the city centre.” The university’s 4,500 staff cater for more than 18,000 students. Since 2000, £100 million has been spent on new buildings and refurbishment, and a further £200 million invested in projects either under way or imminent. The vice-chancellor’s vision for the university is that its physical presence reflects the excellence of its teaching and research. “It is excellence with a purpose, and all the development is designed to underpin and deliver that,” Rogers says. A masterplan for the university’s expansion was drafted by architect Sir Terry Farrell in 2002. The intention was to integrate the university with the city, improve the public realm and rationalise the faculties, Rogers says. A flagship new £35 million

student and administrative services building will become the “face to the place”. The building is situated on Barras Bridge, facing Newcastle’s Civic Centre. It will create a new “front door” to the university, housing student services, and a visitor centre. The whole area will benefit from better landscaping. New pedestrian routes using highquality materials have been designed to integrate the university buildings with the city’s nearby galleries and museums. “Historically the way the university developed meant we had our back turned to the city centre, but we are planning to create a new central plaza,” Rogers says. “It will open up the façade of the historic Armstrong building that has been hidden for decades.” Ideas for the plaza are at an early stage, and a design competition is planned. There will be a new gateway between the university and city centre as a result of a joint venture with INTO University Partnerships. INTO Newcastle University is a £50 million purpose-built study centre for international students, located on the south east edge of the campus, opposite the Haymarket. As well as teaching facilities, the centre will include around 540 student bedrooms. Several new buildings are due to open this year. One is a new £4.8 million student accommodation block at Castle Leazes Halls of Residence, which will provide 98 study bedrooms over seven floors. Two self-catered flats per floor, with en-suite facilities 35

feature universities

Previous page: Northumbria University’s plans for a new building. Main pic: The University of Newcastle’s proposed new medical facility.


and shared living spaces, will house seven students each, as well as being able to accommodate up to 14 students with disabilities. Another new building opening this year is the £4.5 million International Centre for Music Studies. It will house purpose-built practice rooms, teaching space, IT suites and flexible recording and studio space. A new £29.8 million Medical Sciences building, which will be a hub for worldleading research, is due to be completed by the end of the year, and the university is taking a 22-year lease on over 9,000 sq m of accommodation for its Business School at the £200 million Downing Plaza development. Downing Plaza’s steel and glass buildings will form an impressive entrance to Newcastle’s new Science City (as described in previous issues of Renaissance). The land beyond it is earmarked for the creation of Science Central, a science, business and education complex in which the university is a major

partner. This is a good example of a project that is helping to change the face of Newcastle, according to David Slater, executive director of environment and regeneration for Newcastle City Council. “Science City is a flagship,” he says. “Because of its location, the scale of the investment and the quality of the project, Science Central is an important site for us, in terms of developing the city centre.” Newcastle University is involved in other collaborative projects around the city. One is the £26.6 million Campus for Ageing and Vitality at Newcastle General Hospital. It will provide the city with a research centre studying the process of ageing and combating age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. The university has also taken the lead in a partnership to develop the Great North Museum. This £26 million project, which has involved the extension and refurbishment of the Hancock Museum building and incorporates the Hatton

universities feature

“All this investment is intended to benefit the regional economy, and the reaction from the public has been incredibly positive”

Top: Newcastle University’s Student and Administrative Services Building. Above: Northumbria University’s proposed new building.

Gallery, is set to create a new cultural centre for the region. “All this investment is intended to benefit the regional economy, and the reaction from the public has been incredibly positive,” Rogers says. And Newcastle is not the only university that has been investing heavily in new buildings. Northumbria University, the largest in the region, has spent more than £100 million on new facilities in Newcastle in recent years. With 32,000 students from over 140 countries the university needs more space. In 2007, the £103 million City Campus East site opened, adding two new buildings with 24,000sq m of space to the university’s estate. The buildings, which house the Newcastle Business School, the School of Law and the School of Design, have won regional and national design awards. “The new buildings are symbolic of the university’s rising capability and confidence,” Professor Andrew Wathey, the vice-chancellor, claims. “Exploring ways to improve the estate is part of our commitment to

develop a first class campus for students and staff,” he adds. The City Campus East development includes a footbridge spanning the central motorway, which links the new site with the existing City Campus West. Here, £65 million is being spent on refurbishing existing buildings and on a new sports facility, which has been approved as a training centre for the 2012 Olympics. The £30 million state-ofthe-art sports centre is due to open in 2010. “It will be accessible to students, staff and the wider community,” Wathey says, and it will attract national and international sporting events to the region. Northumbria is already considering the next phase of its expansion. It includes making further improvements to the City Campus West site and looking at student residence schemes. Newcastle has a reputation for high-quality specialist student accommodation, and this sector is set to expand. “We need more than 5,000 additional spaces over the next five to ten years, to cater for students at Newcastle and Northumbria Universities and Newcastle College,” Slater says. There are around 3,000 spaces proposed in current planning applications, so the council believes that demand for student accommodation is buoyant. All this is important for wider prosperity. “The role of the universities in the future economy is fundamental,” Slater says. “The region is already well established for its knowledge-based economy, and Newcastle’s strong reputation for research means that many people come to the city specifically for this. It has sustained the population growth over the past four to five years,” he adds. As the recession bites, investment by the universities is becoming increasingly important, to keep the local economy afloat. “It will help to see us through the next few years, but we hope that the universities’ expansion plans will stimulate private sector investment in future,” Slater says. n 37

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Stephenson Quarter

Newcastle’s Stephenson Quarter, located behind the city’s train station, was once home to a host of thriving industrial activity including the creation of Stephenson’s Rocket. Currently underused, plans are afoot that will see this area restored to the heart of everyday life in Newcastle city centre. November 2008 saw site developer Silverlink win planning permission for its £200 million redevelopment scheme. Plans are in place for construction to start this summer. Silverlink’s approved plans for the 3.5hectare site include office space, two hotels, 155 residential apartments, restaurants, a gym, retail space, two new public spaces, a multi-storey car park, a new sorting office and a railway heritage centre, ensuring the area’s important heritage is given due prominence amid the modern redevelopment. The plans also include the restoration of 20 South Street home


of Robert Stephenson’s engineering works. Michelle Percy, marketing director at Silverlink says: “This will be one of Newcastle’s biggest mixed developments in the coming years and interest is already high. The city is seen as a vibrant and dynamic location and sites like the Stephenson Quarter are unique. “We aim to create a dynamic area that will reach out and draw people into the different spaces and buildings, and encourage them to return. Stephenson Quarter will promote access for all and breathe new life into the area.”

project update

Gateshead town centre

At the start of the year Gateshead Council announced details of a new vision for the regeneration of the town centre. Produced by architect BDP, the Gateshead Centre Regeneration Delivery Strategy maps out the blueprint for redeveloping the town centre over the next 15-20 years. Public consultation, professional input and a great deal of study have gone into creating the new vision over the course of 2008. And there is plenty to get excited about, as residents of the town can look forward to a revitalised retail core, a new ‘continental style’ residential neighbourhood, the conversion of the Gateshead Highway into a new city park and tree-lined boulevard and a new creative quarter. The developments, designed to boost the appeal of the town centre, all contribute towards the council’s long-term aim of securing city status for Gateshead. Councillor Mick Henry, leader of Gateshead Council, comments: “These exciting plans have the potential to transform the shape, look and experience of Gateshead centre. This is the roadmap for the next 20 years and our ambitious plans have the power to create a new, green and creative Gateshead centre that people will be proud of.”

Haymarket Hub

Newcastle already boasts one of the best transport infrastructures to be found anywhere in the UK. And ensuring it retains this position is a central facet of the city’s regeneration strategy. The reinvigoration of the Metro is a huge undertaking, due to be delivered in three development phases over the coming decade. But phase one is nearing completion, and the impressive redevelopment of the network’s third busiest station, Haymarket, is its centrepiece. The £20 million redevelopment of Haymarket station, used by six million people each year, has seen a wide range of upgrades, including a new ticket concourse, revitalised platforms, new passenger information screens and additional escalators, in addition to the fourstorey office building which has been constructed above the impressive new station. The design and new features present in Haymarket station are to form the blueprint for the redevelopment of other Metro stations, including Monument and Central, as the next phase of the £320 million Metro reinvigoration programme gets under way. Haymarket station is set to meet completion in June 2009, and the next stage of Metro’s reinvigoration will begin in 2010.

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East Pilgrim Street

East Pilgrim Street is a large and strategically important regeneration opportunity area at the heart of Newcastle city centre. It represents an opportunity to create a vibrant retail-led mixed-use quarter, which will reinvigorate an underutilised section of the city and re-establish a connectivity that has not been present for many years. Newcastle City Council’s preferred option for the area includes the restoration of listed buildings and the creation of high-quality new units for retail, offices, hotels, housing and student accommodation. There is also an emphasis on creating more attractive public spaces as part of the area’s redevelopment – something that has been welcomed by the public during various phases of consultation. It is anticipated that by creating a retail focused mixed-use quarter Newcastle will be able to retain and strengthen its position as the regional capital. But progress is unlikely to be rapid on a project of this complexity as there are a number of issues including topography, traffic and highways that must be addressed. Brookfield Europe remains committed to the development of this strategically significant area and is to continue to focus on the area’s masterplan.


Eldon Square

The last four years have seen an incredible amount of redevelopment work taking place at Newcastle’s premier shopping destination. Eldon Square’s redevelopment is a central part of the city’s ambitions to establish itself as one of the country’s leading urban centres. And the good news is that the finishing line is in sight. Access to the centre was improved markedly in 2007 when the new bus station was officially opened. The new St George’s Way section also improved access and added 15 new stores to the centre in February 2008. Since then all efforts have been focused on progressing with the third, and most significant stage of the centre’s redevelopment. Eldon Square South will deliver almost 40,000sq m of retail space by spring 2010. This stage of the centre’s redevelopment has involved the demolition of the mall between Clayton Street and Newgate Street, and rebuilding it, creating space for a brand-new four-storey Debenhams department store, in addition to two-levels of new retail units. When complete, Eldon Square will be the region’s top choice for shopping, reaffirming Newcastle’s significance in the North East.

project update

Science Central

Newcastle’s bid to become one of the world’s premier destinations for science received a boost as it was announced that the development partners have agreed on a vision for Science Central, which is to be the central element of the redevelopment of the former Scottish and Newcastle brewery site. The plans were taken to Newcastle City Council’s Planning and Transport Strategy Committee, and were endorsed as a set of high-level principles. But it is expected that further work on the

design is likely to be required between now and the submission of planning applications. The £700 million development, which is set to transform the site into a mixed-use, science-led development featuring Newcastle College’s School of Applied Science, laboratory and research space, support space including exhibition areas, hotel, retail and office space, student accommodation and flats and housing of various sizes. Newcastle University is still exploring options for locating its new Business School on site.

Walker Riverside

The extensive plans to bring social and economic regeneration to Walker Riverside received a boost with the announcement that local marine and offshore specialist Shepherd Offshore intend to create up to 1,000 jobs as part of their ongoing work on the north bank of the River Tyne. Having negotiated a multi-million pound deal to acquire two former shipyards on the river, the company now owns 60-hectares of industrial space in the area, and is committed to attracting inward investment from companies operating in the burgeoning sustainable energy and sub-sea sectors. After acquiring Neptune Yard from the council and Amec’s Wallsend site, the company, based at Walker Riverside, aims to base huge fabrication projects on their sites. Shepherd Offshore started refurbishing the sites in January in preparation for manufacturing to commence later in 2009. Regional development agency One North East is eager to see progression made in bringing sustainable technologies companies to the River Tyne. It has been reported that through the development and manufacture of a new generation of offshore wind farms, this sector could be worth an estimated £60-£80 billion to the UK economy over the next two decades.

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It’s one of the most ambitious renewal projects in Newcastle’s history: almost 2,000 new homes, striking public spaces and attractive parkland, all within reach of shops and services at a new neighbourhood heart. But the £400 million regeneration plan for Scotswood is about much more than that. Imaginative design is top of the agenda for Newcastle City Council, which used an international competition to lay down a challenge to the world’s architects. Over 140 design firms, from Asia to America entered the competition, with a brief to create a new image for the former industrial area. “The challenge was to come up with designs that will help establish a positive new identity for the area, to provide a high quality of life for residents and allow flexibility for changing lifestyles,” says Tom Hutchinson of Newcastle City Council. “The aim is to create a mixed community that blends Scotswood’s traditional heritage with new homes people can afford.” A jury featuring local residents, architects and urban designers selected six winners whose work will feature in the Expo Link showpiece street. The winning practices – Space Craft, Sarah Wigglesworth, Proctor & Matthews, Fashion Architecture Taste (FAT), JM Architects and S333 – drew praise from the judges: “The winning designs all demonstrate the flexibility to accommodate a range of lifestyles and at the same time create a positive new image for the area,” says David Slater, executive director of environment and regeneration at Newcastle City Council. “We were delighted with the quality and variety of approaches.” The competition sets the tone for the 15-year regeneration scheme, which will also feature new shops, schools and community facilities. Supported by Bridging NewcastleGateshead, the HCA and Newcastle City Council, the emerging new Scotswood will host the UK’s first Neighbourhood Expo, showcasing new standards in design, construction and management of neighbourhoods alongside a programme of cultural events. Main image: Space Craft. Far right: Sarah Wigglesworth. Clockwise from top left: Proctor & Matthews, Fashion Architecture Taste, JM Architects and S333.


project update

Cruddas Park

Work is now under way on the £31 million first phase of a major renewal programme. The first signs of change can be seen as the iconic 1960s towers are given a new look both inside and out with stylish double-height entrance halls and new landscaping. The scheme will include lighting features installed on top of each of the blocks – and the development will be renamed. “This is a major step forward in the West End’s regeneration,” says David Slater. “The blocks will be a great place to live, with stunning views and green spaces – and all within walking distance of the city centre.” Local residents are looking forward to double glazing and better heating, through improved insulation and projecting windows which maximise space, views and sunlight. Communal gardens will be complemented by a wildlife corridor. Three of the blocks will be redeveloped in the first phase over a 21-month period, with the fully refurbished flats available for rent through Your Homes Newcastle. The scheme is expected to bring up to £90 million into the area over six years. Later phases are aimed at providing homes for sale through the scheme’s private sector partners, Gentoo and Bellway Homes.

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Loadman Street

A £30 million regeneration scheme in Newcastle’s West End will create 4,600sq m of commercial space close to the Cruddas Park tower blocks. The scheme will feature commercial units alongside family homes, flats and bungalows. The first phase – backed by Priority Sites and the council – will create 12 single-storey workshop units and eight two-storey office units on the lower part of the site by summer 2010. The upper part of the site will also include 142 homes. “It’s the first step towards an ambitious strategy to transform the quality, quantity and range of business accommodation in the West End of Newcastle,” said Andrew Phillips, regeneration officer at the council. The nearby Whitehouse Enterprise Centre is also set for redevelopment, to create 14,000sq m of modern commercial space. Supported by the council, Priority Sites and the HCA, the scheme will offer flexibility in size of units as well as high levels of insulation and energy efficiency.

Stanhope Street

Stanhope Street, one of the most distinctive shopping streets in Newcastle, the commercial heart of Arthur’s Hill to the west of St James’ Park stadium, is set for a make over. Issues like traffic congestion will be tackled while upgrading the public realm with new benches, railings and sculptures plus eco-friendly paving made from 80% recycled materials. Meanwhile, new pocket parks will encourage people to relax and enjoy the area’s distinctive street culture. The £1.35 million scheme, funded by Newcastle New Deal for Communities and backed by Newcastle City Council, is due for completion in late summer 2009.


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