Newcastle City Council has announced a plan to kick-start the transformation of the city centre by investing in £3-million-worth of improvements.
The council hopes this will result in a centre that is cleaner, healthier and safer, and better suited to the needs of shoppers, visitors and residents.
Newcastle City Council will work with a number of partners to deliver a programme that aims to:
- Clean up Northumberland Street and its side streets, making them clutter-free and more accessible. These public spaces will be enhanced with improved street furniture, as well as managed areas for street trading, events and entertainment.
- Extend paving on Northumberland Road to create a larger pedestrian space.
- Remove buses from Blackett Street (on a trial basis following consultation) to make the street more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly. Blackett Street will be made cleaner and access will be improved to Newcastle’s wider shopping, leisure and cultural quarter.
- Reorganise street trading and servicing arrangements to properties to offer a less cultured and more people-friendly environment.
The council estimates that a full, long-term transformation of Newcastle city centre would cost over £20 million.
The council recognises that it would be unable to fund such a transformation on its own and that its longer-term plans would require collaboration and joint investment with the private sector. It is hoped that the initial £3 million will encourage further investment.
A recent study found that the council’s long-term vision could increase footfall in Newcastle city centre by 2.6 million. The plans could also see over £78 million added to the local economy, as well as the creation of 300 jobs.
Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for inclusive growth, Ged Bell, 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 truly lasting economic growth that everyone can benefit from.”
Sean Bullock, chief executive of the council’s Business Improvement District 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 now need to connect all those areas up by curating the city centre to increase footfall and to improve the relationship between the retail and 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 the 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.”
Newcastle City Council will undertake a full consultation on its plans with all stakeholders – including bus companies, taxi operators, and local businesses, retailers and traders – early in the new year.