Adele Bradley
By Adele Bradley

Senior Staff Writer

26 October 2022

| | 3 min read


Public reminded to have their say on future of local high streets

Public engagement on a pilot project to transform local high streets in Newcastle closes on 30 October.

Chillingham Road pictured  is one of the high streets which is part of the pilot project
Chillingham Road is one of the high streets which is part of the pilot project

With a few days left to go, Newcastle City Council is reminding people to have their say on how to improve key shopping areas in the east end of the city, to boost footfall and bring back pride in local high streets.

Just under £2 million is ear-marked for Chillingham Road, Heaton Road, Heaton Park Road, Shields Road and part of Welbeck Road, as part of a two-year programme called Newcastle East – healthy, inclusive and vibrant high streets.

Funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s Town and High Street Innovation Programme, Newcastle City Council will use the pot of money to bring back empty properties into use, provide support for local traders and create greener and more attractive public spaces, as well as develop a long-term investment plan for the area.

Public engagement on what improvements the public would like to see, including what businesses and services are needed, what would improve accessibility and how the area could be made more attractive, closes on 30 October.

The feedback from this engagement will be used to develop plans for the area, with multi-disciplinary teams from across the council working together to test new approaches and deliver the project over the next two years.

Cllr Alex Hay, cabinet member for a resilient city, said: “We’re now reaching the end of the first phase of this exciting pilot project, which aims to create vibrant high streets in the east end of the city.

“When high streets thrive, communities thrive, so it’s really important that people tell us what they want to see on these high streets – whether that is taking over of empty buildings for community use, creating more attractive green spaces or improving what shops and services are available. We also want to hear from businesses about what support they need and how we can help their businesses grow.

“Many thanks to everyone who has taken part so far. We want the future of these high streets to be shaped by the people who live, work and visit the area, so we are reminding people that they have until 30 October to have their say on this first phase of the project.

“As we’ve said before, we recognise that this is a great opportunity for the east end, and we know there are many other high streets that would benefit from this type of investment. We only have limited funding for this pilot project, which we want to develop as a blue-print to roll out to other areas for when funding becomes available.”

The council put forward the Inner East for this investment due to both opportunities – high streets that support independent retailers, are vibrant due to their catchment and have a range of community assets – and challenges – including areas with high vacancy rates, lower footfall and have been experiencing decline which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. All of the streets are within walking distance of each other, and the aim is to improve connectivity, whilst diversifying the offer in terms of what they provide to the communities of this area.

Over two years the project will develop a long-term investment plan, which will be informed by this first phase of public engagement and then further shaped by co-design involving people, community groups and businesses living in the area. A Transformation Board will be established to oversee and guide this process.

As well as the public engagement phase, the project will also include business support, together with a Green Streets pilot which will provide support for businesses to adopt more sustainable practices and reduce their carbon footprint.

It is estimated that 130 businesses and voluntary and community groups will benefit, as well as create or improve 18 spaces for shared community and/or businesses including nine empty properties brought back into use and create 40 jobs. 

The council will also look to develop this approach as a blue-print for an area-based community and entrepreneurial-led model for neighbourhood renewal which can then be rolled out and/or adapted to other areas and local centres in Newcastle for when further funding becomes available or can be unlocked.

People are invited to have their say by 30 October at Have Your Say Today - Newcastle High Streets - Commonplace