Richard Rogers and Andrew Wright, two of the driving forces behind the Urban Task Force (UTF), have unveiled a radical masterplan for Newcastle on Tyne’s run-down west end, which includes 10,000 new homes and a new tram service to the city centre.
The scheme is part of a £400 million investment into housing and infrastructure in the area. Thirty-six hundred houses will be demolished to make way for the homes.
Newcastle City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery said the strategy is to reverse the population flow out of the city and into the suburbs. Newcastle’s mid-60s population of 330,000 has now fallen to 276,000.
This latest project will again be seen as a test bed for the ideas of the Lord Rogersheaded UTF, which has similar goals.
Newcastle City Council’s own planners have drawn up a parallel scheme for the east end, which suffers from a similar population drain. Only six new houses have been built there in the last 10 years.
Andrew Wright Associates, with Richard Rogers Partnership acting as advisor, has focused on planning the terraced housing above the one thriving Vickers arms factory on the north bank of the Tyne. Economic conditions there are so bad that last year a house was sold for £1.
The masterplan aims to increase housing densities considerably and create a new district centre, with retail and leisure facilities to serve the Benwell, Scotswood and Elswick areas.
‘We need to create a district heart and clarify each of the neighbourhoods, ’ Wright said. ‘Currently, the neighbourhoods are not linked by good quality, shared facilities. But it is clear that there will be the need for fundamental demolitions. This was a very dense and very vibrant area but the urban structure has gone and the area needs a radical rethink.’
He added that the majority of houses to be demolished are either vacant or falling down.
But the council’s approach to providing new housing on this rough estate is likely to be controversial. Lavery said that the council wants to bring ‘people with economic vibrancy to the area, ’ and hinted that troublesome tenants might not be readmitted to the new estate when he said ‘anti-social behaviour will get a thorough response’. The housing is likely to be a mix of social and private housing with funding coming from developers, the European Union and the UK government.
A public consultation exercise on the proposals will last three months and the plans are due to be implemented during the next decade with a three-year construcperiod. Council officials said a strategy on procuring the design of the new housing has yet to be decided.