To most people regeneration in Newcastle brings to mind the 1990s/2000s regeneration of the Quayside, the Baltic and Sage – although technically in the separate town of Gateshead across the River Tyne. Now, however, it seems that a new wave of regeneration activity is underway in Newcastle city centre itself and so we will look at what is ongoing and planned here.
Once a major world shipbuilding and heavy engineering centre, Newcastle upon Tyne has many of the qualities that make for an attractive regeneration and development location. It has a ready workforce, good connectivity by road, rail, air and sea, and competitive labour and land costs. For example, Invest Newcastle says that city centre office space here is currently around 30% cheaper than other UK cities and 68% less than London, and that companies will make operational savings of around 40% in comparison to London.
Another quality that makes for good regeneration potential is ambition and Newcastle seems to qualify in this regard too. Newcastle City Council has a local plan aimed at delivering 21,000 new homes alongside 14,000 new jobs. They have plans aimed at enhancing the city centre with new jobs, new homes and new connections as well as complete new business districts, and say that an overall £1.5bn of investment in the city is anticipated.
Now let us look at some of the main regeneration schemes in the city centre, starting with a scheme that is already under construction. Newcastle Helix is a partnership between Newcastle University, the city council and Legal & General, based on a 24-acre former brewery site to the north west of the city centre. Formerly known as Science Central it has proved to be something of a bold new direction for the city and was rebranded to pitch towards international tech. and science businesses. The site has already attracted around 70 organisations and 200 jobs and it is reported that 4,000 jobs could eventually be located here. More office space is under development and a new residential development of over 400 apartments is being finalised.
Taras Properties, David and Simon Reuben’s development company, is involved in the East Pilgrim Street area where they already own a number of plots. The 7.9ha East Pilgrim Street area is regarded as a gateway development site adjacent to the retail core to be developed in three broad phases. Taras Properties is developing 120,000 sq ft of office space, Bank House on the former Bank of England site, and has planning for 450,000 sq ft more at Pilgrim Place. The developers are also refurbishing a number of heritage buildings for hotel and leisure use and are working on plans for further projects in the area.