Plans to build a 14-storey office development on the site of the old Bank of England building in Newcastle city centre were given the green light on Friday morning
Plans to build a 14-storey office development on the site of the old Bank of England building in Newcastle city centre were given the green light on Friday morning. Despite fears over the imposing structure being unsuitable for the area, Newcastle City Council’s planning committee voted by a margin of seven to three to back the Bank House scheme.
The project, led by Taras Properties and the billionaire Reuben brothers, will also include a new cafe and restaurant on the ground floor and a new public square. Former Labour councillor Marion Williams, representing the Newcastle and Northumberland Society, told the committee that the huge tower is “totally incompatible” with the council’s vision for Pilgrim Street and is simply a “statement of the developer’s power”.
But Roger Thornton, speaking on behalf of the developer, said that Bank House would be a “significant step” in the street’s regeneration. He added that plans to overhaul the site had been in the works for up to 30 years with minimal progress, but would now become a “flagship property” for the city that would help solve a “chronic under-supply” of offices in Newcastle.
Ryder Architecture’s Ian Crow said: “This will be a catalyst for the regeneration of this city centre quarter that has lain dormant for so long.” Labour councillor John-Paul Stephenson said he hoped the building could become a “destination” for tourists if it incorporates public artwork, but a number of committee members raised concerns about the height of Bank House. Coun Paula Holland, who opposed the scheme, called councillors’ objections over the tower block’s height “surprising”, given that they approved the enormous Whey Aye wheel just a few weeks ago.
The former Bank of England building, near the Swan House Roundabout, was torn down in 2012 after the 1960s eyesore had lain empty for years.
The council’s cabinet member for employment and investment, Coun Ged Bell, said: “I am absolutely delighted that this ambitious development is going ahead. The construction of a new office block at one of the most important entrances to Newcastle is great news for the city. It’s a £34m investment that will create 165 construction jobs and more than 900 office jobs when it’s complete. It heralds the start of work on the redevelopment of East Pilgrim Street – one of the most important city centre regeneration opportunities in the North of England, which when finished will bring back into use a much-needed part of the city centre and boost the local economy.”