25 August 2016 – Chronicle Live
Plans to make Newcastle’s Northumberland Street one of the best shopping areas in Europe are being put together, with businesses and people in the city being invited to get involved. Newcastle City Council and business improvement group NE1 Ltd will be holding a meeting in September which aims to kick off a process of making major improvements to the city’s main shopping street.
The two organisations have signed up Government high street tzar Mark Williams to lead the project and say they want to emulate upmarket shopping areas like London’s Regent Street, Boulevard Anspach in Brussels and the Neuer Wall area of Hamburg. The plans follow other schemes to improve parts of the city centre, including a regeneration of the Bigg Market and developments on the Quayside.
Coun 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.”
The council’s programme of renewal and reinvention, Re-newcastle, has improved some areas of the city centre, including Barras Bridge and John Dobson Street, with the Bigg Market area also to be regenerated. The authority is also working on a masterplan for the East Pilgrim Street area, where a raft of buildings owned by the Reuben Brothers – listed earlier this year as the UK’s richest people – have lain empty for a number of years.
Sean Bullick, chief executive of Business Improvement District (BID) company NE1, 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.”
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 to discuss the plan is being held at 1pm on September 21 at the Tyneside Cinema. Businesses are being encouraged to attend to share their ideas and become involved in the early stages of the development.