January 27, 2020 @ 16:22 by Richard Dawson
A Tyneside developer has gained control of the planned £120 million Strawberry Place regeneration project, with a promise of improving facilities for fans of Newcastle United.
The High Street Group, a specialist in redevelopment, has bought a controlling £10 million stake in the company that previously had the rights to the land in the shadow of St. James’ Park.
The site, which is located between the Strawberry pub and the Gate, is currently used for parking but will comprise four blocks once the project is complete under current plans.
Gary Forrest, chairman at the Group, said: “This significant investment in Newcastle is part of the High Street Group’s continued mission to build communities and regenerate city centres.
“Our vision is to create a true community hub with leisure and retail facilities, a magnificent new hotel, luxury apartments at affordable rents and high-quality office space.
“It is a hugely exciting opportunity to radically improve our city, bring investment and help to create hundreds of new jobs.
Previously, United’s owner, Mike Ashley, sold the land to Helios Real Estate and Marrico for £9 million, who went on to acquire planning permission from Newcastle Council, though the proposals were disputed by fans.
Now, the High Street Group is making plans to develop the space, but also wants to hear from fans about what facilities would improve the matchday experience.
Forrest added: “I know some fans are concerned about how it may affect possible future development of the ground but there are no firm proposals for this at present and there are other options.
“This innovative idea would offer the thousands of fans who flock to St James’ Park a much wider choice of quality restaurants and bars, which would provide the ideal setting for pre- and post-match revellers.
“However, it would also enhance the whole of the city for locals and visitors.
“And we want to bring the whole of the city with us so, when the detailed plans are completed, we will listen to the views of local businesses, residents and football fans.
“Their comments will inform our progress.”
Helios Real Estate, from Durham, and Marrico, from Leeds, will still maintain minor stakes in the project, though it is the High Street Group who will be the main developer of the site.