As the city continues to grow and millions visit Newcastle every year, with new complementary improvements taking place for example in transport infrastructure, new restaurants and retail outlets opening up, all extending our retail and cultural offer, now is the time to channel that growth into opportunity and look to the future.
The partners have a vision for Northumberland Street to become a retail experience like no other, a world-class retail and leisure destination, with aspirations looking to the likes of London’s Regent Street, Hamburg’s Neuer Wall, and Brussels Boulevard Anspach.
One of the government’s high street tzars Mark Williams, who was former Chairman of the Retail Property Taskforce, and a Director of the Hark Group, has agreed to support the partners by independently chairing the partner working group, and providing expert advice on how our ambitions can be realised and funded.
Cllr Ged Bell, Cabinet Member for Investment and Development at Newcastle City Council said: “Northumberland Street and adjoining areas have the potential to set the tone for the type of city we want to be, and we’re giving businesses the opportunity to strengthen the city’s appeal, increase footfall and visitors to Newcastle, encourage them to eat and stay in our city longer, all of which will have a positive effect on our economy.
“Newcastle was voted favourite UK city by the Guardian in 2014, let’s build on that accolade to become the best European city. But to become a global destination we need to think global, and up our game to compete with other major European cities. We’re confident that by investing in the transformation of Northumberland Street we can become a vibrant and attractive central retail district, which will act as a catalyst for wider economic regeneration.”
These improvements are part of the council’s programme of renewal and reinvention, Re-newcastle, delivering the biggest transformation of the city’s infrastructure in a generation.
Many of these improvements are underway in the city centre, including public realm and transport proposals for Percy Street, Barras Bridge and north of the city. Our £1.1m transformation of John Dobson Street is nearing completion into a tree lined boulevard into the city’s flagship segregated cycle way, new road crossings, seating areas and improved public transport links.
This also links to the council’s current consultation on draft proposals to refresh its long term development aspirations for East Pilgrim Street which runs until 8 September. These frameworks set out the principles that development could be rolled out in this area, to complement our overall aspirations for the city centre, and extend the leisure and tourism offer to create a vibrant central district.
Some short term improvements are also underway with the council set to enforce its planned Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), helping to deal with anti-social behaviour and aggressive begging. Medium term improvements such as restructuring the area to enhance the way it functions and is serviced, and investment in public realm, would all help give the area a new lease of life.
Sean Bullick, Chief Executive of Business Improvement District (BID) Company, NE1 Ltd said: “Northumberland Street is the premier shopping street in the North East of England and the challenges it faces are echoed both nationally and internationally. Due to the unprecedented and permanent changes in consumer behaviour and demand, it is imperative that Northumberland Street remains the spine of the city and continues to compete with Europe’s best.
“We are delighted to be working with Newcastle City Council and Mark Williams on plans to strengthen it as an integral part of the city’s retail core, renewing and strengthening links with Eldon Square, its feeder streets and with the universities and hospital. “We would encourage all businesses and retailers to attend the event on the 21 September.”
Mark Williams, independent Chair of the Northumberland Street Working Group said: “This initiative is a leading example of both the local authority and BID pooling resource to drive further improvements to their city, and in so doing actively involve key stakeholders from the commercial; cultural; educational and health sectors to bring about transformational change. This is a great project to have the privilege to work on.”
A meeting is being held at 1pm on Wednesday 21 September in the Tyneside Cinema, and businesses are being encouraged to attend to share ideas and become involved in the early stages of development to help shape future plans for Northumberland Street.