Northern Ireland developer McAleer and Rushe has submitted revised plans for a £100m mixed-use scheme to replace Newcastle’s ageing Newgate Centre.
The company acquired the site in in 2006 and secured a similar planning permission five years later for a scheme which included three hotels, offices, retail and leisure units. It describes its latest application as “an evolution which reflects the very latest requirements of potential occupiers”.
If approved, the first phase of the plan will see the demolition of the existing 1960s buildings start later this year. They will be replaced by a 250-bed hotel and around 30,000sq ft of basement and ground floor retail, restaurant and leisure units. The top four floors will contain Grade A office space.
The development will also include the refurbishment of 67 Clayton Street, a Grade II listed corner property separating the current building’s two entrances and which will be transformed into the foyer for the office element of the new scheme.
McAleer and Rushe claim the prestige development — made up of two new buildings linked, in the local dialect, by a new “chare” or alleyway – will create up to 750 construction jobs and 550 permanent posts once completed.
Ian Kettlewell is associate director at the Newcastle office of Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners which is advising on the plan. “This new development will revitalise a neglected area of the city centre,” he explained. “The design, by a local architect, has been finessed in close co-operation with the council planning officers and local stakeholders.”
He also hoped the project would kick-start the regeneration of other neighbouring buildings.
“This scheme reflects the vitality of Newcastle while also respecting the much loved heritage of Grainger Town and includes the restoration of 67 Clayton Street which, in turn, has the potential to encourage the restoration of other properties on Clayton Street,” added Kettlewell.
Grainger Town is the area of Newcastle city centre developed by Richard Grainger between 1824 and 1841 in association with architect John Dobson. The area includes 244 listed buildings and was one of the first conservation areas ever to be designated in England. So far more than £170m has been invested in preserving the area.
Not everyone is in favour of the rebuild which, when fully let, will reportedly earn Newcastle City Council £600,000 a year in business rates. One objection lodged with planners described the scheme as “the most hideous design possible on one of England’s most elegant streets.” Another claimed that “brutalist and ugly are the only words possible to describe this carbuncle of a building”.
In reply the developers point out that the latest redevelopment merely builds on plans already agreed by planners in 2011. “It is important that a few colourful soundbites do not obscure what is a very positive social and economic story for the city amongst a tough economic background of so many stalled regional developments,” said a company spokesman.
Headquartered at Cookstown in Northern Ireland, McAleer and Rushe focuses principally on the development and construction of high density city centre schemes, often as mixed use projects or as stand-alone buildings. It also has offices in Dublin and London.
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