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Newcastle unveils big plans to transform the city centre

November 17, 2017

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Newcastle City Council has announced ambitious plans to kick start the transformation of the city centre into a world-renowned shopping and leisure destination.

The council’s Cabinet is set to approve a £3 million package of improvements to initiate the transformation programme. This will lead to a more attractive cleaner, healthier and safer city centre to meet the needs of every resident and visitor to Newcastle, and provide lasting benefits and opportunities for generations to come.

The initial makeover will start with a clean-up on Northumberland Street and its side streets in the heart of Newcastle’s retail quarter. These will become clutter-free and more accessible spaces with new street furniture and improved public realm, with bespoke and managed areas to be introduced for street trading, events and entertainment.

Subject to consultation, Blackett Street will be changed to remove buses on a trial basis, offering cleaner and improved spaces that give priority to pedestrians and cyclists, and provide easier access to the wider shopping, leisure and cultural quarter.

Cllr Ged Bell, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth at Newcastle City Council said: “Newcastle is a great city and one that never stands still. Our plans for the city centre set the scene for the type of place we want to be, and we need to be bold and ambitious for its future.

“As the regional capital of the North East, our vision for the city centre can only be realised by taking a long term and collaborative approach, working with partners to deliver lasting economic growth that everyone can benefit from. This puts people at the heart of our plans, and helps to make Newcastle a truly accessible city for all.”

Working alongside partners NE1 Limited, local businesses and stakeholders, the council want to maximise the potential of complementary improvements already taking place in the city to extend its retail and cultural offer.

Sean Bullick, Chief Executive of Business Improvement District (BID) Company, NE1 Ltd said: “There has been significant investment in other shopping and leisure areas in the city centre, including Intu’s Eldon Square and Grey’s Quarter, and by retailers including Fenwick. We are delighted to see progress being made on Pilgrim Street too.

“We now need to connect all those areas up by curating the city centre to increase footfall and dwell and to improve the relationship between the retail and the leisure offer. This initial investment and the interventions planned really up our game, and support our ambitions to become an international destination of choice.”

Adam Fenwick from department store Fenwick said: “High street shopping and consumer buying behaviour is changing and we must all collectively respond to this and face these challenges head on.

“Improving and connecting the retail and leisure core in Newcastle will certainly strengthen the city’s reputation as a modern, cosmopolitan European regional capital city. We’re delighted the council and its partners are investing in the heart of the city, which will help drive further improvements by retailers and property owners.”

The council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality, Cllr Arlene Ainsley said:

“Newcastle is already a city that people can be proud of and we are looking to improve it even further. This plan will make our city centre better than ever.

“We have a massive opportunity to showcase our great city to audiences from across the globe next summer when the Great Exhibition of the North arrives in town. With over three million visitors expected to attend, now is the time to invest in tomorrow to present our city at its best.

“Our plans will help breathe new life into the city’s centre and drive further investment to help realise its full potential, boost the city’s economy and create employment opportunities for our residents.”

Mark Williams, independent Chair of the Northumberland Street Working Group , and future President of Revo in 2018 said: “These plans form the first stage of an ambitious programme that a wide group of stakeholders have contributed to and support, as it impacts their city and investment. The council are leading by funding this phase, following which they and all other stakeholders need to contribute to the expansion and running of these improvements. The approach though is ground breaking and one which others will look to follow.”

The full scope of these proposals go beyond resources available to the council to deliver on its own, and implementation will require long term collaboration and joint investment with the private sector.

This initial £3 million package of improvements will create new spaces for activities, entertainment and events – partly on the main street and partly by extending paving on Northumberland Road to create an extended pedestrian space.

It is also proposed to reorganise and enhance street trading and alter servicing arrangements to properties, offering a less cluttered and people friendly environment. Blackett Street will be changed to remove buses on a trial basis to give people priority.

The council plans to undertake full consultation on its proposals with all stakeholders including bus and taxi operators, traders, retailers and businesses early in the New Year.

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