Newcastle City Council today unveiled its vision to transform the city centre as part of an ambitious wider recovery plan.
The £50m City Centre Transformation Programme (CCTP) is a critical part of the council’s long-held vision to improve the city centre, which has become even more important as the city looks to recover following the devastating impact of Covid-19.
The programme will bring significant investment to the city centre and ensure Newcastle remains a place where businesses can thrive, people want to move to and live, and tourists visit. It will capitalise on the city’s vibrancy and welcoming nature and create a safer, more appealing and healthier green city with outdoor spaces and activities that people, and their families can enjoy together.
This will mean some big changes to the city’s environment including moving forward with plans to remove vehicle traffic from Blackett Street in the heart of our city centre.
The council has already secured over £20m to begin transforming a number of city centre streets this summer which will provide confidence that the remaining £30m can be secured through a mix of grant funding and private investment with key partners.
The initial £10.5m secured from the North East LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) as part of the government’s Getting Building Fund and Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund will kickstart the first phase of the programme.
- Grey Street – A street that will become the hub for cultural events and performance and ultimately become the primary pedestrian route between the city centre and Quayside.
- Northumberland Street – Transforming the street with trees and greenery to a relaxed place that can be enjoyed all year round.
- Ridley Place – A pedestrian destination for local independent retailers and for
markets and popup retail food and beverage.
- Saville Row – A place for arts, innovation and design. Somewhere independent retailers can showcase local products and art.
We are also working on plans for Old Eldon Square that will create a destination that will host major civic and cultural events for all generations to enjoy, while at the same time enhancing the square as a focal place of remembrance and the visibility of the war memorial. In addition, we will also be working with key stakeholders to undertake a strategic review of Eldon Square.
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, said: “City centres are changing, and they must adapt to survive as now more people are shopping online and climate change has increased the urgency for cleaner, greener spaces.
“With our partners we have been working on a new vision for the city centre to address those challenges which are now much more acute due to the devastating impact of the pandemic.
“Our long-term ambition to close Blackett Street to busy through traffic and reallocate to people and business is a key element of delivering this vision, opening up space, making it safer and improving the environment for residents and businesses.
“Today we are launching our plans to create a city centre that gives residents and visitors what they want – pleasant open spaces to meet and socialise; a more diverse range of shops; safer streets that are free of traffic where people can walk freely, and attractions that offer families lots of things to do that are fun and educational.
“Newcastle is a premier shopping destination with a bright future and we will work with retailers, the Grainger Market, hospitality and all businesses – in the immediate term to reopen safely in COVID secure, socially distanced way and on these plans which will set us on a new path to create a re-energised city centre.
“Getting the right mix of housing, culture and experiences for our residents will be what sets Newcastle apart from other cities, to make it more liveable and greener will be the key to our success.
“Today is about the city centre but we have also been developing plans for neighbourhoods as we seek to create a cleaner, safer environment where families and business can thrive.
“We want Newcastle to be an attractive, modern successful city that is carbon neutral by 2030 where children can grow safely and reach their full potential in life – and that is what these plans are all about.”
Pat Ritchie, Chief Executive, Newcastle City Council said: “Recent news about the closure of several major high street names illustrates all too clearly the challenges that our beloved city centre faces in the aftermath of Covid-19.
“Collectively we can see the planned changes as a threat or as a great opportunity to remodel our city for the future. The council needs to lead the city in partnership with our private sector partners as we have done before, to continue to evolve, adapt and make changes as we look towards a bright and exciting future.
“Office occupiers will return but use their space differently. There will be a mix of home and office working so they will use their space differently to help attract and retain the best talent.
“We also need to provide great places to live for our community in the heart of our city, in order for it to remain vibrant and exciting – the time to create more homes in the city centre is now.
“Alongside any change we can expect some inconvenience but in reality, nothing on the scale caused by the global pandemic. Change is essential to help us rebuild – doing nothing is not an option for our community or our businesses.
“Newcastle is blessed with many assets that will help with this. We have two highly acclaimed universities just a stone’s throw away from each other as well as an excellent college, world class hospitals, the historic Grainger Market which is very much part of our plans to become the city’s centre of produce and food culture, a football ground in the centre of the city, a unique and thriving cultural offer and fantastic transport links.
“We have also started positive conversations with many key stakeholders who fully support our vision for a reimagined city centre.”
Since the pandemic the city council and key partners have been working closely with businesses to support them in their recovery. This has included putting in place social distancing measures, city hosts and new walking and cycling routes to help people visit the city centre in a safe and Covid-secure way.
Work has also been done to support bars, cafes and restaurants make use of outside space through the use of pavement café licensing and the reallocation of highway space in locations across the city including on Grey Street.
The council and key partners in the city are asking for the views of residents, businesses and other organisations on the proposals drawn up to achieve these ambitions. There will be a number of opportunities for people to have their say and details of how they can view these proposals and respond at www.newcastle.gov.uk/citycentre