27 October 2021| | 4 min read
Major investment for city centre and new leisure centre in West Denton
Ambitious projects to invest in Newcastle city centre and build a new leisure centre in the Outer West have received Government backing.
Newcastle City Council secured the significant investments through a successful bid to the national Levelling Up Fund, which was confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the budget today.
It is understood that two other bids for repairs and maintenance to the Tyne Bridge, and jobs on the River Tyne, were not successful in this initial round of funding. If not successful in further rounds, the council has pledged to lobby Government through other channels.
Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, said: “I am delighted to have been successful in our bid to the government’s Levelling Up Fund to help secure the future of the Grainger Market and Old Eldon Square.
“As two of the city’s most iconic and treasured assets, this funding will now allow their heritage to be preserved and enhanced. It also means we are in the position to progress with our plans to improve the environment and connectivity in the city centre, providing safe, green and clean spaces for people to enjoy and continue to support local businesses.
“Our city centre is vital to the economic renewal of our city. If it prospers the whole city prospers, so this announcement is great news for the whole of Newcastle and everyone who lives here.”
Restoring Grainger Market and creating space for cultural activities will transform this iconic part of the city, creating a retail destination to rival the best European markets. Striking architecture, a diverse mix of independent traders and vibrant events will attract visitors and boost destination-retail tourism.
Old Eldon Square, with the war memorial at its heart, will become an elegant civic space with fountains and cafes and bars adding a sense of vibrancy day and night. The council has pledged to work with all interested groups on the improvements in this – the next phase of the city centre transformation.
In relation to a new leisure centre at West Denton, Cllr Forbes, said: “I am so pleased that the people of the Outer West will be getting a new state of the art leisure centre.
“The council shared the community’s disappointment when GLL said they would not be reopening West Denton Pool.
“We considered funding and building a new pool in the Outer West at West Denton Leisure Centre but felt that a new leisure facility with sports hall, gym and pool would be a great opportunity to provide much better sports facilities across the board.
“We are delighted the Government has agreed with us and look forward to work starting on this new facility for the people of the Outer West.”
The state-of-the-art leisure facility will offer a new sports hall, swimming pool, gym, café, library, and space for community use to consolidate and revitalise the provisions of the existing sports centre and now-closed West Denton pool.
The council and its leisure partner, GLL, will contribute a combined £3m in matched funding to the project.
Commenting on the two bids that were not successful in the initial round – the Tyne Bridge and jobs on the banks of the Tyne - Cllr Forbes, added: “It is disappointing that this bid to restore and repair one of the nation’s best loved landmarks has not been given the green light today, however we’re continuing to bid for £40m funding as part of a joint bid with Transport for the North to the Department of Transport.
“We will lobby Government for this funding so we can ensure this important structure can be restored to its former glory.”
“Many will agree that the Tyne Bridge needs attention and, with the centenary year in 2028 approaching, the need to secure the necessary funding is becoming increasingly urgent.
“The project on the river is aimed at protecting local jobs, safeguarding industrial operations on the banks of the River Tyne and creating new employment and training opportunities for our communities was very important, and so it is extremely disappointing that our funding bid has been unsuccessful so far.
“We will continue to seek alternative options to enable this strategically important work to go ahead and would urge the government to consider this for investment as part of the next round of the Levelling Up funding process.”
Newcastle Central MP, Chi Onwurah, who supported the city centre bid, said: “The Grainger Market is a unique, Grade 1 listed building at the core of our city life and culture.
“The Covid crisis has accelerated changes in our high street and magnified the importance of local centres. This funding will allow the council to design and deliver a 21st century offer in the heart of the 19th Century heritage.
“It will both protect and create thousands of new city centre jobs and support Newcastle to build back better.”
Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, supported the bid for a new leisure facility in West Denton. She said: "I’m absolutely thrilled that our campaign for a new, £22m state of the art Leisure Centre in the Outer West of Newcastle has been successful. I want to thank all residents who signed my petition and supported the campaign.
"I’ve pressed Ministers, including the Prime Minister himself, at every opportunity to back this bid and I’m really grateful the Government has got on board.
"We were all sad to see the closure of the much-valued West Denton Pool last year, but this new centre will ensure residents in the Outer West have access to a swimming pool, ultra-modern sports facilities, as well as a café, library, and community space.
"As well as being potentially transformational for health outcome, the Centre can act as an anchor in the local community, attracting more residents to nearby services including the Outer West Library and playing an important part in rejuvenating the local area.”
Our city centre is vital to the economic renewal of our city. If it prospers the whole city prospers, so this announcement is great news for the whole of Newcastle and everyone who lives here.
Cllr Nick Forbes
Leader of the Council