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The transformational impact of Forth Yards on Newcastle

13th March, 2024

Aerial view of the Forth Yards site next to the River Tyne, there is a large arena to the bottom left and lots of brownfield across the rest of the site.
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Stuart Howie, Avison Young

Avison Young’s Stuart Howie shares his insights into why Forth Yards development in Newcastle is not just another development, but a pivotal project for the city’s future. 

As cities evolve, the role of strategic real estate development in shaping their futures cannot be overstated. Beyond the creation of spaces, it’s the long-term outcomes – how these spaces foster community, sustainability, and economic growth – that ultimately defines their success. At Avison Young, we’re at the forefront of this transformation when it comes to the Forth Yards project in Newcastle. We’re working with the city and its partners, who are committed to transformational, community-centric placemaking.  

This year, Forth Yards took centre stage as the first event to launch Newcastle’s 2024 programme at MIPIM. I was joined by an expert panel of Cllr Nick Kemp, Leader, Newcastle City Council, Michelle Percy, Director of Place, Newcastle City Council, Liz Bromley, Chief Executive, Newcastle College Group, Rob Hamilton, Head of Investment and Economic Growth, North of Tyne Combined Authority and Michael Palin, Executive Director of Markets, Partners and Places, Homes England to discuss the scale, ambitions and opportunities of the project. 

Situated on a commanding 51-acre site, Forth Yards is set to redefine the western gateway into Newcastle’s city centre. This is not just about reimagining a significant stretch of underutilised waterfront; it’s about creating a vibrant, well-connected community hub. The development represents one of the most strategically crucial projects Avison Young has embarked on, from both a placemaking perspective and in terms of the broader vision for the city. 

Huge opportunity but not without challenges 

This project provides the potential for a new residential heartbeat at the city’s western edge, complementing the vibrant Ouseburn in the east, and extending the Quayside waterfront experience. However, the site comes with its own set of challenges, including brownfield land, fragmented ownership, and significant infrastructure demands. Our role at Avison Young has been to support the city in navigating these challenges, leveraging our expertise in strategic delivery and providing crucial commercial support to turn potential into reality.  

The project’s momentum is being driven by strong and effective public leadership and partnering, led by Newcastle City Council, Homes England, Network Rail, and the North of Tyne Combined Authority. This collaborative working is not just about bringing a vision to life, it’s about setting new standards for sustainable and inclusive urban development. The announcement of support for Forth Yards within the region’s trail blazer devolution deal, announced in the budget last week, further evidences the public sector’s commitment to impactful delivery.

The leadership and commitment of the public sector is laying the foundations for success at Forth Yards. Going forward, it will however require investment and commitment from the private sector too – and we know that the best place making happens when the public and private sectors work well in strong partnerships. 

MIPIM: A platform for connection 

In terms of forging these new, all-important partnerships, MIPIM 2024 offers the perfect opportunity to showcase Forth Yards, engaging with the market and potential partners to ensure the project’s success. One of the key takeaways from the session was that ambition and commitment to Forth Yards is high, and simply aiming for ‘good isn’t good enough’. The public sector partners highlighted why this project is an opportunity to do something extraordinary for Newcastle and they are seeking interest from private sector partners that share their vision.

At Avison Young, we certainly share the city’s ambition and its desire not only deliver a great place but to also realise outcomes that extend beyond physical space to encompass social and environmental benefits.  

When it comes to delivering on ESG for this project, the vision for Forth Yards is ambitious, targeting key outcomes to enrich the very fabric of the city of Newcastle. This includes enhancing city geography by establishing a new gateway, fostering connectivity with a focus on sustainable transport options, and building pride in place through quality, sustainability, and community identity. Inclusivity is central to the vision too, ensuring the development caters to diverse needs and promotes a sense of belonging and security for all.  

An inclusive future for Newcastle  

Forth Yards will set a new benchmark for the future of urban living and enhanced connectivity in Newcastle. We expect it to push the boundaries of success at Forth Yards, with a strong focus on innovation and collaboration underpinned by a strong commitment to social and environmental stewardship. As evidenced during the MIPIM panel – a strong public sector partnership has worked hard to ensure Forth Yards is ‘investor-ready’ and is set to realise a sustainable development that brings genuine opportunities for all those that live, work and study there in the years to come. 

We’re proud to be the trusted advisor for Newcastle City Council and its partners on such a transformative project, and we look forward to the ongoing discussions with the market as the city prepares to take the next steps in progressing Forth Yards.  

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