5 August 2022| | 3 min read
Plans for Newcastle high streets unveiled
Plans to transform local high streets in Newcastle could be given the go-ahead in the coming weeks.
Just under £2 million has been earmarked for key shopping areas in the east end of the city to boost footfall and bring back pride in the local area.
Using funding from the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s £6 million Town and High Street Innovation Programme, the council has developed a two-year programme which will focus on improving high streets on Chillingham Road, Heaton Road, Heaton Park Road, Shields Road and part of Welbeck Road.
The plans include bringing back empty properties into use, providing support for local traders and creating greener and more attractive public spaces to be enjoyed by the people who live, work and visit there, as well as develop a long-term investment plan for the area.
Kick starting the programme, called Newcastle East - Inclusive, Healthy, Vibrant High Streets, the first phase will focus on public engagement to find out what people working and living in the area would like to see improved, what businesses and services they would like to see in their local area and how they can get around their area better, as well as engaging with traders and local entrepreneurs about what they need to grow their business or create new ones.
Cllr Alex Hay, cabinet member for a resilient city said: “Local high streets are the heart of our communities, and when they thrive, our communities thrive. We’re delighted that we have this investment which will focus on revitalising local neighbourhoods in the east end, improving the lives for people who live and work there.
“What is really exciting about this project, is that it will be shaped by local people for local people, telling us what they want to see in their local high streets, and teams from across the council will be working together to make that possible. Whether it is designing a pocket park, reclaiming use of public space, improving connectivity for people walking or cycling, or creating community hubs for everyone to enjoy by taking over empty buildings.
“We’ll also be providing support to local businesses, to help them thrive and grow and create more sustainable greener businesses, which benefits everyone. But this is only the start, this programme will unlock the potential for further investment and create a much-needed long-term future plan for the area.
“We would also like to develop this as a blue-print for other areas in the city, so Newcastle is a city where everyone has the chance to succeed, improve and access quality employment and training regardless of where in Newcastle they live.”
Cllr Carl Johnson, Deputy Mayor of North Tyneside Council and North of Tyne Combined Authority Cabinet Member for Investment, said: “The North of Tyne Combined Authority and local authorities are tackling issues that affect local communities directly, by speaking to our residents across the region.
“Nowhere is this more true than in our Towns and High Streets Programme, where each of our local authorities will be listening to communities in Ashington, the Inner East of Newcastle, and Wallsend to test new models for high street transformation.
"Our high streets are the hub of community activity, from cafés to local shops where people meet and chat and share time together.
“We want people to enjoy their local spaces and their growing communities and this investment will enrich vibrant forms of civic life and social and community action."
The council put forward the Inner East for this investment due to both opportunities – high streets that support independent retailers, are vibrant due to their catchment and have a range of community assets – and challenges – including areas with high vacancy rates, lower footfall and have been experiencing decline which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. All of the streets are within walking distance of each other, and the aim is to improve connectivity, whilst diversifying the offer in terms of what they provide to the communities of this area.
Over two years the project will develop a long-term investment plan, which will be informed by engagement and co-design involving people, community groups and businesses living in the area, alongside establishing a Transformation Board to oversee the development and delivery of the plan. The project will also see business support, together with a Green Streets pilot which will provide support for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, improving connectivity through better walking and cycling facilities across the area, and bringing back into use empty properties to create a shared space for community and business uses.
It is estimated that 130 businesses and voluntary and community groups will benefit, as well as create or improve 18 spaces for shared community and/or businesses including nine empty properties brought back into use and create 40 jobs.
The council will also look to develop this approach as a blue-print for an area-based community and entrepreneurial-led model for neighbourhood renewal which can then be rolled out and/or adapted to other areas and local centres in Newcastle for when further funding becomes available or can be unlocked.
Once the plans are approved, the council will launch the project in the coming weeks, with public engagement taking place over the Autumn.