Work to start on multi-million transformation of Northumberland Street in Newcastle

New lighting pillars, paving, seats and greenery feature in the plans for Northumberland Street. Credit: Newcastle City Council

Work is finally set to start on a multi-million pound revamp of Newcastle’s main high street.

City council chiefs have unveiled two new images showcasing how a reinvigorated Northumberland Street will look – with new lighting pillars, paving, seats, and greenery.

A contractor has now been appointed to carry out the transformation, which it is hoped will be completed by 2025, with initial preparatory works due to start before Christmas.

The project is being funded using the majority of a £20m grant from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, £7m of which is going to be spent on improvements at the Grainger Market.

The money had originally been earmarked for a pedestrianisation of Blackett Street and a redesign of Old Eldon Square, before those plans were shelved by the council’s new Labour administration after Nick Kemp took over as leader last year.

Included in the plans now are a series of 50ft lighting towers paying homage to the wooden poles that guide people across the causeway to Holy Island.

Medieval-themed paving will also recognises Northumberland Street’s history as part of the ancient route for travellers journeying to Lindisfarne.

The busy shopping thoroughfare will also be given new benches, trees, and other plants in an effort to make it more attractive.

An artist illustration of a transformed Northumberland Street. Credit: Newcastle City Council

Labour councillor Alex Hay, the council’s cabinet member responsible for city centre regeneration, said: “Northumberland Street is at the city’s heart and plays a vital role in the lives of local people, so I am therefore delighted that we can now progress with our plans to transform it into somewhere they can be proud of.

"We remain committed to delivering our long-term ambition to ensure the city centre plays its part in delivering a cleaner, greener, more welcoming place that attracts visitors and investment and where our residents can feel a sense of belonging.

“Northumberland Street will be the flagship scheme, and this gives us the opportunity to align it with the other regeneration initiatives underway in the city to ensure we are all working together to maximise benefits for the people of Newcastle.”

Concerns had been raised by the city’s Lib Dem opposition about a lack of progress on the Northumberland Street scheme, with complaints that the area had become “increasingly shabby”.

Civic centre bosses had pledged that the works would start in 2023, having first announced the scheme in 2021 but then delaying in order to remodel the project.

The council said a full repaving of Northumberland Street should “address the poor sub-base and quality of pavement that have meant an ongoing need for maintenance” which has left it with numerous patches of tarmac.

Fenwick store director Kieran McBride said the investment would “create a lively and prosperous cultural hub in the city centre for locals and tourists to enjoy, enabling businesses such as Fenwick to continue serving the region for many years to come”. 

Tom Gurney, operations manager for contractors Taylor Woodrow, added: “We are looking forward to getting started on what is set to be a key element in the transformation of the city centre.

“Our team, which includes local people, is committed to delivering high-quality improvements whilst simultaneously seeking out ways to support communities across the city.”

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