The wedge of land in question – between Strawberry Place and Gallowgate – currently consists only of a car park and the entrance to St James Metro station. However, the latest £50m proposals would see the site redeveloped with a series of buildings up to 17 storeys high, including offices, flats, student accommodation and commercial space.
The development of this particular Newcastle site has had nearly as many false starts as that of the Newgate Centre, which we wrote about in September (and for which the plans have now been approved). Suggestions back in 2011 for a 29-storey tower remained on the drawing board, while plans by Gateshead’s Tolent Construction were scrapped earlier this year when Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley decided to pursue his own proposals.
These latest plans are being brought forward by Doncaster-based property developer Marrico Asset Management LLP – the firm behind Central Square, a mixed-use scheme in Leeds – with Killingworth’s FaulknerBrowns Architects leading the design team. Subject to planning approval, work is expected to begin in 2016 and will take two years to complete.
Several factors suggest that, this time around, the proposals may finally come to fruition.
Most obviously, the area surrounding the site has been transformed in the last few years, with office schemes like Wellbar Central and The Core sitting alongside the Sandman Signature hotel and a clutch of student housing blocks. Nearby, next to the Strawberry pub, a separate Hanro-led scheme for student accommodation was recently approved, reflecting the apparently buoyant market for university housing in the city.
Perhaps just as significant, though, is Mike Ashley’s interest in this new scheme. Whatever you think of him as a businessman or football club owner, his single-mindedness is legendary – and it would be unwise to bet against any project he’s backing getting off the ground.
Written by Graham Soult