Draft Design Guidance for Landmarks and Gateways - Document

Draft Design Guidance for Landmarks and Gateways - Document

  • You can view the full pdf document here.  (pdf, 7mb)



The page below is for the assistance of users with screen reader software or other accessibility needs.



Enhancing Experiences of Our Great City Design Guidance for Landmarks and Gateways in Newcastle’s Urban Core

Prepared by Newcastle City Council [Final Draft May 2021]

 Iain Fairlamb, Assistant Director of Planning , Civic Centre, Barras Bridge,

Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8PH



Chapter 1. Our Great City 

Chapter 2. Landmarks & Gateways 

Chapter 3. Enhancing the City

Chapter 4. Delivering Beauty 


Chapter 1.  Our Great City

Made in Newcastle



 This urban design document provides Design Guidance for Landmarks and Gateways in Newcastle’s Urban Core. It sets the scene for strategically understanding the city centre and identifies areas with potential for enhancement in the future.


Delivering Beauty

 Newcastle is a great and ambitious city. Our aim is by 2030 to be a prosperous and sustainable city that is a unique and distinctive place – where people choose to live, work and visit because everyone can realise their full potential and enjoy a high quality of lifestyle.


The City’s Urban Core will continue to be the economic hub of the region, being the place of choice for doing business, learning, entertainment and living. To help achieve this vision we want to enhance the urban core with exceptional design and sustainability standards by seeing world class architecture, stunning streets and public spaces which all contribute to creating a vibrant, beautiful and healthy city.


Landmarks & Placemaking

 The enhancement of significant areas of the city centre has the potential to provide exciting opportunities for placemaking. In the right location, landmarks and high quality public realm can positively contribute to the urban core’s  legibility, cityscape, skyline and wider regeneration.


Geordie Pride

 It is important to protect our heritage, character and local distinctiveness - avoiding ‘anywhere architecture’ or ill-conceived proposals which harm the city rather than enhance it.


Civic pride and beauty are a prerequisite for Newcastle as a modern, dynamic and sustainable city centre with capacity to grow and keep pacewith other major cities across the country.


We want a great city we ca n all be proud of.




Our Great City

 Our Newcastle is a great city, one that never stands still.


A city that makes history and shapes the future.

A place of bright sparks and big ideas.

Of people who are passionate about the place they call home.

And who always strive for something better.

A city with strong connections, to the past, to the world, to each other.

Somewhere to believe in, to love, to be proud of.

A place that tugs at the heart, and will always call you back.

As a city, we will define, challenge and mark out a new path. With the energy that comes from chasing your dreams, and then making them real.

We’ve got an eye on the horizon, and just beyond. We believe in ourselves, and in our great city. This is our Newcastle.





Chapter 2. Landmarks & Gateways


River, Rail and Road

 As individuals we share patterns of experience with the built environment every day.

 Celebrating the beauty of Newcastle can be experienced in many different and wonderful ways. Arriving at Central Station by train, a leisurely walk or cycle along Quayside, hopping on a Metro, or running amongst thousands across the famous Tyne Bridge with the world watching.

 Patterns of experience touch our lives and play an important role in our knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the city.

 Approaching the Urban Core along the city’s various major movement corridors gives numerous memorable views of both historic and modern cityscape features.

 Opportunity’s to enhance the rich and varied character and experiences of our Urban Core provided by future developments must be carefully managed to protect the city’s unique built environment and visual experience. This will include demonstrating how important views within, from and into the Urban Core will be respected, as set out in Policy UC13 of the Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan for Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne (CSUCP) 20102030.


Gateways & Arrival Points

 Newcastle can be experienced from multiple gateway points surrounding the city.Gateways include arrival points and major approaches into, through and out of the city. They are used by millions of people every year and play an important role in the overall perception of a place.

 Sense of arrival contributes strongly towards people’s image of Newcastle and great importance is placed on these locations within the city.

 The following virtual tour and diagram illustrate the gateways and arrival points which are identified in Policy UC11 of the Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan which offer great opportunity for enhancement by creating strong urban frontages and new high quality landmark buildings (this is from para 14.85 of the CSUCP).

 Policy UC11 and this Design Guidance sets out locations where gateways should be improved and enhanced and arrival points where the pedestrian and cycling environment should be improved.


Key Sites & Conservation Areas

Our Evolving Skyline

 Newcastle is continuing to grow into a dynamic and diverse place of European standing. It is a historic city containing 12 conservations areas,1 World heritage site and 830 listed buildings.

 The city is characterised by its many layers of history, built form, structures, landscape, topography and some of the most interesting examples of townscape in the country.

 As our skyline continues to evolve it is important to ensure this successfully integrates with the built environment sensitively.


Landmark buildings and structures

Definition of a Landmark:

 “A building or structure that stands out from its background by virtue of its height, size or due to its unique form or style. Landmarks can aid navigation and orientation”


Planning for the Future Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan for Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne 2010-2030

Distinctive Landmark Buildings and Structures

Newcastle Central Station Tyne Bridge, Swing Bridge, High Level Bridge and

King Edward VII Bridge

St James’ Park Civic Centre

Northumbria University School of Design

Centre for Life

Northumbria High Level Bridge

As identified in Urban Core Plan for Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne



Future New Landmarks


  1. The Catalyst

The Catalyst is a building at Newcastle Helix which hosts 3 research centres of Newcastle University, together with collaborative space for businesses. It host the National Innovation


Centre for Ageing, the National Innovation Centre for Data, and the National Institute for Health Research Innovation Observatory (NIHRIO).


  1. Hadrian’s Tower

Hadrian’s Tower an iconic 27 storey, 82-metre tower providing 162 luxury apartments in the heart of Newcastle.


  1. The View

The scheme is the final phase in the Downing Plaza development, for which we produced the masterplan. Standing at 18 storeys, its striking blue exterior is visible on Newcastle’s skyline from many approaches into the city.

With its mix of studio apartments and shared flats


  1. Toffee Factory


Landmark building for the creative and digital sector in Newcastle housing a wide range of leading design, marketing and applications development businesses.


  1. Giants on the Quayside

This is a new destination for leisure, sport, food and drink – built around a 140-metre giant observation wheel, dubbed The Whey Aye, standing 5 metres taller than the London Eye


  1. Bank House

A new office destination for Newcastle, providing over 100,000 sq.ft of new offices. A prominent gateway position on one of Newcastle’s most important historic streets.


Chapter.3 Enhancing the City

Enhancing the City Newcastle is a city of innovation and reinvention. Its profile represents significant periods of history which have collectively contributed towards its rich character.

 In recent years substantial investment and development has changed some of the character within the Urban Core.

 As the city continues to grow it is likely further investment and development will take place in key areas of the city. This following section highlights some of the recent successes in the Urban Core and highlights areas with potential to be improved.


Enhancement Opportunities

The Urban Core contains numerous sites which have the potential to be enhanced by new development.

 The Newcastle Character Assessment identifies the multi-layers features of various parts of the Urban Core that give them their character and distinctiveness and identifies their relative strengths and weakness to be addressed as an integral part of future development. The value of character areas are split into three categories: positive (including Areas of Local Townscape Significance), Neutral - where it character could be strengthened and made more positive by direct change and improvement; and weak - where change should be embraced and encouraged, in order

to achieve new and strongly positive character.


Areas of change

 Newcastle Helix, a flagship project covering 9.7 Ha in the heart of the city is in the process of creating a new globalcentre for urban innovation bringing together academia, the public sector, communities, business and industry. Alongside the Gallowgate area this includes some of the tallest buildings in the city shaping much of the skyline. To the east of Newcastle Helix is the


 Redevelopment area where surface car park sites have planning permission for mixed residential and commercial development ranging from 12 to 21 storeys in height placed around new public realm entrance to Saint James metro Station.

 Stephenson Quarter is undergoing significant positive change. The site is located in the Central Conservation Area with the strong industrial heritage of Robert Stephenson & Co. Locomotive Works now providing a mix of uses including education, commercial and leisure.

The early phases of Central Square at the time represented an increase in scale, carefully considering design principles outlined in the Tyne Gorge Study. East Pilgrim Street (EPS) represents one of the most strategically important City Centre Regeneration Opportunity Areas in the North of England and is located next to the Primary Shopping Area in Newcastle. The vision is to regenerate land and historic assets and promote comprehensive mixed use.

 These 3 areas are identified as key sites in the CSUCP. These are significant sites with potential for major redevelopment which are deliverable in the short to medium term.

 Our Urban Quarters:


1. Civic


3.Newcastle Central

4.Quayside & Ouseburn



 The Civic Sub-Area forms the northern edge of the Urban Core. In the north and east it is defined by Newcastle’s twoUniversities, the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), the Civic Centre and Exhibition Park.


In the west it extends to St James’ Park and the former brewery site (known as Newcastle Helix). This area contains important arrival points into the city including one mainline station, two metro stations and two bus stations. Activity in the Civic Sub-Area is predominantly related to the major institutions which make a vital contribution to the economy and the vibrancy of City and the wider region. There are also important cultural attractions including the Great North Museum and the Northern Stage Theatre.



 The Discovery Sub-Area lies on the south-west edge of Newcastle, with the River Tyne as its southern boundary and the Redheugh Bridge/St James’ Boulevard (A189) as its north-south spine. It is a major gateway into Newcastle from the Gateshead side, by road (Redheugh), rail (King Edward VII) and Metro (QEII Bridge). The southern part of this Sub-Area benefits from having attractive views over the Tyne and is an area that is rich in archaeology and industrial heritage.

 The Sub-Area has two distinct character areas. Firstly, the northern area is made up of major activities which include

 Newcastle College, the Discovery Museum and the area of offices and hotels around the Boulevard which is steadily developing.

 The Forth Yards Area is located to the south of this character area. It represents a significant area identified as an exciting opportunity site for a mixture of residential, office and leisure uses at a major gateway into Newcastle.

It also contains the line of Hadrian’s Wall and Vallum and a number of important listed buildings, Westgate Hill Cemetery and the Summerhill

Conservation Area. hubs and interchanges including Central

Station, Haymarket and Eldon Square bus stations, and four Metro stations.


Newcastle Central

 The Newcastle Central Sub-Area extends northwards from Central Station to the Haymarket and from St. James Boulevard eastward to the Central Motorway.

 The Sub-Area is the most accessible location by public transport of all the Tyne and Wear centres.

 It contains Newcastle’s major transport hubs and interchanges including Central Station, Haymarket and Eldon Square bus stations, and four Metro stations.

 It contains the regional retail centre, surrounded by commercial and leisure uses. The Primary Shopping Area is compact and very busy. Northumberland Street and Eldon Square Shopping Centre experience the highest levels of footfall in the Urban Core. The Sub-Area is a key evening destination, providing a range of leisure activities including bars and nightclubs, music venues, cinemas, theatres, restaurants and cafés.


Quayside & Ouseburn

 This Sub-Area includes Newcastle Quayside and the Ouseburn Valley extending from Redheugh Bridge along the Quayside to the former Spillers Mill and to the City Stadium in the north east. They are very distinctive areas characterized and greatly influenced by the rivers, their heritage, topography, and previous industrial activity.

 The Quayside’s steep Tyne Gorge slopes combine with historic buildings, iconic bridges and landmark buildings to form a memorable and instantly recognizable location, while the Tyne Gorge landscape of the Ouseburn River creates a very tight, enclosed, intimate character which still contains many striking former industrial buildings on small plots along the river.

 “Beauty includes everything that promotes a healthy and happy life, everything that makes a collection of buildings into a place, everything that turns anywhere into somewhere, and nowhere into home.

 It is not merely a visual characteristic, but is revealed in the deep harmony between a place and those who settle there.

 So understood, beauty should be an essential condition for planning permission.”

 Living with Beauty: Promoting health, well-being and sustainable growth



Delivering Beauty

 We shape our environment; and thereafter they shape us. Newcastle wants world class architecture, great streets and amazing spaces to be proud of.

 Government policy and guidance places a big emphasis on the importance of urban design and looking at ways to secure quality and ‘beauty’ whilst mindful of viability and deliverability.

 The National Design Guide and emerging planning reforms will potentially allow greater control from a design perspective for Newcastle, using design tools such as: - Design Codes

  • Masterplans
  • Design Frameworks
  • Public Realm Strategies
  • Design Review


A collection of these measures will help raise design standards in Newcastle’s Urban Core.



Design Code and Masterplans

 It is intended future design codes and masterplans will be prepared for the Urban Core to help create and deliver a world class city.


Landmarks: Design requirements

 Newcastle’s Urban Core has great potential for further enhancement. In the right location landmark buildings and structures can contribute positively to the city aiding legibility, cityscape, skyline and wider regeneration.

 Proposals including landmark buildings and structured should make a positive contribution to the location in which they are built and deliver high quality of design.

 The following matters should be addressed as part of the planning application process to set out how CSUCP Policy CS15 Placemaking and DAP Policy DM 20 have been fully considered together with other Local Plan policies:


1.Building location

 Demonstrate that the tall building individually or as part of a group enhances the skyline, streetscape and important views

  • Provide an appropriate level of infrastructure and that the development is well-supported by transport facilities


2.Building design


  • Provide high standards of sustainable building design, architecture, construction practices and high quality of materials that respond to surrounding areas and buildings
  • Ensure that the visual impact including the form, silhouette, design and choice of materials respects and enhance the character of the area and the wider area
  • Provide high standards of building performance, safety and security and ensuring future adaptability and long term maintenance


  1. Microclimate and amenity


  • Incorporate measures to address impacts on microclimate including sunlight, daylight and wind effects, overshadowing and reflected glare
  • Maximise the delivery of new green infrastructure assets and high quality public realm
  • Explore innovative ways for proposals to incorporate living greenery and sustainable design techniques allowing for accessible roof space, adapting to and mitigating climate change, sustainable urban drainage, biodiversity net gain and improved appearance.


  1. Place-making


  • Demonstrate development proposals respect the positive elements of their context, the city’s topography and landscape, architecture and public realm to create distinctive quality buildings befitting their setting


  1. Historic environment


  • Conserve or enhance the significance of heritage assets and their setting and views.


Applying for Planning Permission Full Application


A stage.2 pre-application discussion is highly recommended as the starting point for discussion.

 An appropriate level of information must be presented upfront to allow an informed assessment of the proposed development.

 A detailed planning application will need to be to be submitted for tall buildings to allow assessment of the potential impacts. In some cases a tall building application may require a supporting Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to accompany the application.

 An urban design analysis will be required as part of an application for a tall building. In key sites set out in the CSUCP, a masterplan will also be required. The local authority will advise on requirements on a case by case basis.

 For further detail relating to planning submission information and validation requirements please click on the following link.


Outline Applications

 Outline applications will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances; where the applicant is seeking to establish the principle of a tall building as an important element of a robust and credible masterplan.

 A proposal resulting in major changes to the external appearance of an existing tall building will be required to be justified. In instances where it is not possible to respond to a specific criteria, the applicant will be required to explain why this is not possible as part of the assessment.


Existing Tall Building

 The existence of a tall building in a particular location will not justify its replacement with a new tall building on the same site and the assessment process in this design guidance should be followed.


Fire Safety

 Fire safety for users in all buildings including tall buildings is paramount to the local authority. Whilst this guidance does not deal with issues such as structural safety, fire protection or means of escape; as these matters are dealt with by Building Regulations it is acknowledged that such matters will have an essential influence on the structure of tall buildings and therefore must be fully considered with any proposal. Applications for tall buildings will need to include a Fire Statement, setting out how access to the building for fire appliances will be obtained.


Urban Design Analysis


An urban design analysis can help to identify opportunities where a landmark building might contribute towards the enhancement of townscape and the wider regeneration of the city centre.

 A successful urban design analysis will identify those elements that create local character and include other important features and constraints, natural topography, movement, urban grain, significant views of skylines, scale and height, streetscape and character assessment, materials, landmark and historic buildings and areas and their settings, including backdrops, and important local views, prospects and panorama.

 An Urban Design Analysis showing how a proposal will relate to the wider area should be prepared.




In areas of the city which have been identified as key sites in the CSUCP, a masterplan will be required to accompany a tall building application, along with an urban design analysis. This should explain and

illustrate how the proposal will successfully integrate with the surrounding built environment and meets guidance prepared for that area.

 A masterplan will be required to take a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach for an agreed area, potentially extending beyond the proposed red line boundary of an application. The extent of masterplan area must be agreed with the local planning authority at the pre-app stage and take into consideration landownership, policy context, scale of development, sensitivity of location and the likely wider impact of the proposal.

 The masterplan should have sufficient detail to show how the proposal relates to the surrounding area enabling the local authority, and Historic England where applicable, to fully assess its impact.

 A masterplan or urban design analysis should be prepared separately to a Design and Access Statement (DAS) and form an important part of the planning application.



Is this page useful?
Is this page useful?