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Newcastle upon Tyne

The city is the epitome of such a bounded mono-centric compact city. It also has a more distinct form of governance, with responsibility for urban design lying with the local City Council. However, like many other cities globally, development is determined by the private sector, with land purchased by national and international developers, who are able to transform large areas of the centre to fit within such an outward-looking perspective.  In the last few decades associated with gradual investment into vacant sites, and underused or undervalued buildings, change in the city centre has been incremental; a process of osmosis which is now at odds with the pressures to be more transformative.

Achieving the planned shift in scale of change – with accompanying willingness by planning authorities to sanction larger scale redevelopment – raises new tensions, and typifies how adjustments have often to be cast within terms of ‘innovation’, transformation or a renaissance to be politically and financially attractive. In the case of Newcastle, the tensions lie between the desire to attract external capital investment, accompanied by organisations disconnected with the city, and the aim to be more inclusive in the design of the city centre to ensure it works for residents, citizens and the urban region. In turn this raises a fundamental question about for whom the city centre is being re-developed.

The city plan argues that a focus on active travel, safe areas for pedestrians, and more accessibility that will unlock the potential for events and activities throughout the year and help to add a downtown atmosphere that increases footfall and spend. Although there are some new housing proposals, the residential population remains small. The central pivot of the Council’s vision remains primarily economic, boosting the city as a tourist destination, a retail and commercial centre and a locus for a substantially increased student population.

NUT bridge cover.jpg

City centre transformation

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