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Wimpey hires Red or Dead to fashion Gateshead housing

Wimpey has signed up Red or Dead fashion designers Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway to design 688 homes for a development on the banks of the River Tyne in Gateshead.

The firm approached Wayne Hemingway after he publicly bewailed the state of the UK mass housing market in April, offering him the chance to 'put up or shut up'.

The fashion gurus were advised by Newcastle architect Ian Darby Partnerships on the design of the £70 million Staiths South Bank development.

The 16ha site was last used for the 1990 Garden Festival, but has remained unused since the event.

Planning permission for the site will be submitted this week.

Jane Massey, partner with Ian Darby Partnerships, told the AJ: 'We were a little anxious at the beginning. But it was very refreshing. The high profile of the Hemingways allowed them to be very bullish and come at the project from a different angle.' She said the practice found the project to be a 'very positive experience' and would welcome similar projects in the future.

Gerardine Hemingway said: 'We weren't interested in designing £500,000 penthouses on the Thames or wallpaper for the interior of a show home.' Wayne Hemingway said he wanted to design homes to meet the needs of the community and 'to make affordable homes exciting to live in'.

Ronnie Baird, managing director of Wimpey City Living, added: 'People have said: 'Why use fashion designers to build houses?' But Wayne and Gerardine have brought a new way of working to the table. They questioned practices that [housebuilders] have taken for granted for decades.'

Council leader George Gill said: 'Involving two leading figures from the fashion industry can only stimulate innovative architecture.'

The site will include family homes and flats, which will cost between £55,000 and £175,000.

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