Plans to transform an area of public space in the heart of Newcastle have today been unveiled.

The £800,000 project will see a new square with seating and raised planted beds, created in the area around the Stephenson Monument, at the bottom of Westgate Road, near Central Station.

The development has been designed to make better use of the space, creating an attractive area for people to meet and helping to enhance first impressions of the city for people arriving by train.

It also includes measures designed to reduce the risk of localised flooding by managing rain water run-off.

Newcastle City Council and NE1 are leading the project, which has received significant support from Northumbrian Water. The designs for the area have been developed by Southern Green.

Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: “This investment in Newcastle city centre will enhance and revitalise the area around the Stephenson Monument, creating an attractive and welcoming space in the heart of the city.

“The area is one of the first sights to greet visitors when they step off the train and we want to make sure they get a good first impression.

“As well as creating a pleasant area, where people can sit and relax this project will also provide a much nicer setting around the impressive monument dedicated to the North East railway pioneer George Stephenson.”

The work is part of the Central Gateway project, involving Newcastle City Council and NE1, which has already seen major improvements to the area around Central Station.

Adrian Waddell, director of operations at NE1 Ltd said: “We are delighted that the plans for the Stephenson Monument Square have come to fruition and that a new ‘green space’ is to be added to the heart of the city centre.

“NE1’s vision for the area was to create a welcoming gateway and sense of arrival for people stepping off the train in Newcastle. The restoration of our majestic Central Station, the Portico and development of the surrounding area all contribute to this.

“We’ve seen £25.5m of investment into the station and adjacent areas, investment that is still growing.

“Putting the spaces between buildings, to use with pocket parks like this is vitally important in helping to create a strong sense of place in the city as well as providing good quality, well-maintained areas for people to meet and enjoy Newcastle and their surroundings. This matters for visitors, those who work in the city and investors.”

Work on the project will be carried out in two stages in order to minimise disruption over the busy Christmas period.

The first phase, which will involve installing a new paved area immediately outside of the Union Rooms and Vita Student buildings, will start on Monday 2 October and is due to be completed in November.

Further paving and the installation of planted beds and seating will take place during the second stage of the works, which will begin in January 2018.