Views sought on transformation plans for Newcastle city centre’s retail heart


Views are being sought on major investment plans to transform Newcastle city centre’s retail core into a world-class shopping and leisure destination.

Newcastle City Council and its Business District Improvement Partner NE1, unveiled an ambitious vision for the city centre to a range of businesses and stakeholders earlier this week.

Northumberland Street transformation

Here's the latest on the exciting plans to transform #NorthumberlandStreet into a world-class shopping and leisure destination #investinginourcity

Posted by Newcastle City Council on Wednesday, 7 February 2018

This followed the council’s earlier approval of a £3 million package of improvements in November last year, primarily aimed at the Northumberland Street and Blackett Street areas of the retail core.

It is intended to help kick start transformation and act as a catalyst for the further investment needed from the public and private sector to deliver property development and improvement as well as public realm.

Businesses, retailers, transport operators and developers were among those who heard more about the proposals and gave their feedback at the event earlier this week.

Mark Williams, independent chair of the working group which led on stakeholder input to the plan, set out the case for change.

He said: “For Newcastle to achieve its ambitions for all stakeholders in the city, the physical environment needs to adapt and evolve. This city centre is the heart of the city and the linkages between the educational, cultural, health, commercial and retail need improving, as well as the environment in which they sit.

“This process of change has been identified by the council, along with their BID partner NE1. Their leadership and drive has been critical to getting us to where we now are, and the support from all stakeholders has been fantastic.

“This is the first phase of change, which aims to encourage third party investment into the area for the benefit of all and which complements the wider investment being made in the city.

“All of this provides a great outlook for a rightly proud city and its view of where it should sit in a global context.”

Cllr Ged Bell, cabinet member for inclusive growth at Newcastle City Council, said: “We want to maximise the city’s potential to become a world-class retail, leisure and cultural destination, which will attract visitors, deliver economic growth and bring benefits for people who live and work here.

“To achieve this we need significant investment – upwards of £20 million over approximately 10 years – and we are speaking to major stakeholders, investors and developers in the city centre about how we can take these plans forward.

“The city council has already made a £3m commitment to get the transformation underway in time for the Great Exhibition of the North, which will shine a spotlight on our city and is a great opportunity to showcase our strengths and potential.”

The initial plans for Northumberland Street and its side streets, and for Blackett Street in due course, are aimed at creating a healthier, more attractive and accessible city centre environment.

They include changes to make better use of the space, new street furniture and the creation of new areas for street trading, events and entertainment.

Arrangements for delivery and servicing vehicles on Northumberland Street will be reviewed and long term proposals to re-route buses away from Blackett Street are also under consideration to help create a more people-friendly city centre.

Cllr Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: “We are investing in the city’s future, changing how we use the space and creating a safer, more pleasant environment for people in the heart of the retail area.

“We believe our city deserves a reliable, clean and smart transport network which supports a stronger economy and a healthier city.

“A key part of this is about creating reliable and efficient public transport routes as well as looking at how we can tackle the issue of poor air quality by reducing congestion and making it easier for people to choose alternatives to car travel.”

Sean Bullick, chief executive of NE1 said: “The Northumberland Street area is the beating heart of the city. From the work done to date, the scale of ambition from stakeholders is clear, as is the huge opportunity in better connecting this area with surrounding developments and providing a modern, cosmopolitan experience that people want and expect.

“This first phase of investment forms part of a long term plan to transform the area and will strengthen and support the city’s ambitions to become an international destination of choice. We look forward to working with the city council, businesses and wider stakeholders on these exciting plans.”

Consultation with bus operators and other stakeholders is already underway in relation to proposed temporary changes on Blackett Street during the Great Exhibition of the North.

Other key stakeholders and the wider public will shortly have the opportunity to comment on the wider city centre proposals via Let’s Talk Newcastle.

Detailed work will now start to pull together the delivery team and consider technical options for making the most effective and attractive changes. This will enable detailed discussions with stakeholders and testing with the public, prior to any permanent changes being made.