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Quay will be jewel in Newcastle's crown

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I read with interest Ed Dorrell's article on Imperial Quay in Newcastle (pictured) and thought it would be useful to put the issues raised in context (AJ 16.1.03).

There was originally an open competition for the site, which generated almost 100 expressions of interest. Our design was shortlisted and developed further before judging by One North East, the local regeneration agency and owner of the site, in conjunction with planning guidance from officers of Newcastle City Council.

After AWG Developments was announced preferred developer, the plans were submitted for approval in April 2002 and presented at Planning Committee on 11 October. Throughout the process, AWG Developments and Carey Jones Architects undertook a number of public consultation initiatives. In October, the committee deferred its decision on the grounds of concern over the scheme's scale. This allowed us a period for reconsultation with the local authority and local interest groups, including Jim Cousins MP. Amendments were made, including a reduction in the building's height and size.

Imperial Quay was approved by the committee on 3 January 2003. It was reported to committee that the amendments had made the scheme comparable in height to neighbouring developments. In their report, the planning officers confirmed that the scheme was compliant with both the original Terry Farrell Quayside Masterplan and the council's development brief for the site. The brief itself was approved by committee less than three years ago following extensive public consultation.

Imperial Quay will provide office accommodation for Newcastle and will create up to 1,000 jobs. It will also provide 61 new homes and key community benefits, such as a new public access from City Road to Quayside;

together with civic space in the form of three public piazzas and investment in several major pieces of public art. The new pedestrian route through the scheme includes lifts, which will ensure accessibility to Quayside and the proposed new Quayside Transit system for all.

Our own track record in Newcastle, highlighted by the delivery of the national award-winning Central Square development, is testament to our understanding of the needs of the city. Both AWG Developments and Carey Jones Architects believe the quay will become the jewel in the crown within the highly acclaimed regeneration of Newcastle's Quayside, and will strongly enhance the combined Newcastle-Gateshead European Capital of Culture bid for 2008.

Mike Harris, director, Carey Jones Architects

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