Jack Brooke-Battersby
By Jack Brooke-Battersby

Senior Staff Writer

8 December 2023

| | 4 min read


Improvement works to Northumberland Street now confirmed

Plans to revamp Northumberland Street have taken a significant step forward, with Newcastle City Council’s announcement that a contractor has now been appointed and preparatory work to start before Christmas in readiness for the major improvements starting in the New Year. 

Artist's impression of Northumberland Street
Artist's impression of Northumberland Street

The improvements, part of the council’s ongoing commitment to transform the city centre, will cement Northumberland Street’s position as the region’s most vibrant and important high street, setting it apart from other streets and creating an elegant environment. New paving inspired by the street’s Medieval history will be complemented by seating, trees, greenery, and lighting.

Northumberland Street, together with the other streets that have received investment as part of the ongoing programme of improvements, will offer a destination that reflects the changing needs of city centres. Not only will there be great shops, but also spaces for events, entertainment and for people just to spend time in a more welcoming place that can be enjoyed both day and night.

Local businesses will benefit as more people will be attracted to visit the city, helping to deliver economic growth as well as providing opportunities that will enrich the cultural offerings.

Cllr Alex Hay, Cabinet member for a Thriving City, Newcastle City Council said: “Our vision for Newcastle is a successful city which is economically strong, inclusive and sustainable, and that’s why we need a city centre that works for everyone.

“Northumberland Street is at the city’s heart and plays a vital role in the lives of local people, so I am therefore delighted that we can now progress with our plans to transform it into somewhere they can be proud of.

“We remain committed to delivering our long-term ambition to ensure the city centre plays its part in delivering a cleaner, greener, more welcoming place that attracts visitors and investment and where our residents can feel a sense of belonging. 

“Northumberland Street will be the flagship scheme, and this gives us the opportunity to align it with the other regeneration initiatives underway in the city to ensure we are all working together to maximise benefits for the people of Newcastle.”

Kieran McBride, Fenwick Newcastle Store Director said: “At Fenwick, we are committed to the continued transformation of the city of Newcastle and are delighted by the planned regeneration of Northumberland Street, home to our Fenwick flagship store.
“This significant investment from the council will create a lively and prosperous cultural hub in the city centre for locals and tourists to enjoy, enabling businesses such as Fenwick to continue serving the region for many years to come.”

The works on Northumberland Street are being funded by the Government’s Levelling up Fund (LUF), as part of an overall £20m package. This money that was initially earmarked for Blackett Street and Old Eldon Square has now been diverted following the council’s decision to defer those plans. 

In addition to the significant investment in Northumberland Street, the funding will also allow for improvements to the area around the Grainger Market, to complement the plans already underway inside the market as part of the £7m received from the LUF. 

It will also fund improved digital connectivity in the city centre, including the provision of free Wifi in the Grainger Market and across the city centre. 

Following a competitive tendering exercise, Taylor Woodrow has been awarded an 18-month contract to carry out the works to Northumberland Street, which are due to be completed by summer 2025. 

Tom Gurney, Operations Manager for Taylor Woodrow said: “We are looking forward to getting started on what is set to be a key element in the transformation of the city centre. 

“Our team, which includes local people, is committed to delivering high-quality improvements whilst simultaneously seeking out ways to support communities across the city.”

The new designs for the street will not only transform its look and feel but will also address the poor sub-base and quality of pavement that have meant an ongoing need for maintenance and the resulting tarmac patches on the street over the years. As part of the improvement works the tarmac will be removed and the street fully repaved.

There has been ongoing consultation with businesses and other stakeholders on the street, and their feedback has helped to shape and inform the plans so far. They will continue to be updated and involved as the work progresses.

The Northumberland Street redevelopment is a key element of Newcastle City Council’s plans to transform the city centre and create a reconnected city, enhancing the vibrancy and appeal of Newcastle for residents and visitors, and integrating new developments with the city’s heritage.

The programme of works is reshaping and improving streets across the city centre, including Ridley Place and Saville Row. The improvements to Grey Street continue on schedule with work underway to bring more nature to this magnificent street and contribute to the city’s climate resilience. This is due to complete by summer 2024.