March 16, 2021 @ 8:53 by Steven Hugill
A council has unveiled £50 million city centre revamp plans.
Newcastle City Council has launched a blueprint that includes new open spaces, traffic-free streets, a more diverse range of shops and family attractions.
Known as the City Centre Transformation Programme (CCTP), bosses say it will “bring significant investment…and ensure Newcastle remains a place where businesses can thrive, people want to move to and live, and tourists visit”.
In a wide-ranging programme, the authority also plans to press ahead with proposals to remove vehicles from Blackett Street, assess the feasibility of creating a civil and cultural events itinerary at Old Eldon Square and undertake a strategic review of Eldon Square.
Officials say £20 million has already been secured to begin work, with the remaining £30 million expected to come from grant funding and private investment.
The initial phase of development – supported by £10.5 million funding from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, as part of the Government’s Getting Building Fund and Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund – will help deliver work including:
Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council [pictured below], said the plans will play an intrinsic role in helping the city recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, after lockdowns knocked both the day and night-time economies and affected its retail environment.
He 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.
He added: “Newcastle is a premier shopping destination with a bright future, and we will work with retailers, the Grainger Market, hospitality and all businesses (to) 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.
“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.”
Pat Ritchie, the council’s chief executive, reiterated the need for the city to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
She added: “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.
“Change is essential to help us rebuild – doing nothing is not an option.
“Newcastle is blessed with many assets that will help with this; we have two highly-acclaimed universities, as well as an excellent college, world-class hospitals, the historic Grainger Market, a football ground in the centre of the city, a unique and thriving cultural offer and fantastic transport links.”