17 April 2002
Dear Sir/Madam (sic)
DRAFT DEVELOPMENT BRIEF FOR LAND AT PORTLAND ROAD
The Draft Strategy for the Regeneration of the Ouseburn Valley identified the former Paint Factory site on Portland Road as a development opportunity where there was strong developer interest for a Business Park. Unfortunately that proposal was not forthcoming. (1) However, although the site has not been marketed (2), there has been interest in the site from a number of developers and guidance in the form of a Development Brief is viewed as essential.
The Brief once it is approved by the City Council will set out the relevant planning policies contained in the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) and other considerations to be taken into account in developing the site. At this stage it is in draft form and is going through a public consultation process. (3)
The Draft Brief suggests that the site should be developed for business/light industrial (4) but as part of a mixed use scheme including a broad mix of housing type, density and size but clear that student accommodation would not be an appropriate use. (5)
The Draft Brief proposes that there may be scope to utilise parts of the adjacent City Stadium open space as part of a larger scheme subject to agreed improvements to the existing leisure and recreational facilities, retaining the cycle route and enhancing the recreational/habitat quality of the open space. (6) It suggests no more than 10% of the City Stadium will be made available to be incorporated into a scheme.
My notes (3rd February 2008)
(1) 'Strong' has changed its meaning.
(2) i.e. Sold off to private developers.
(3) At this time I had been involved in another 'public consultation process' in another part of the city. It was a remarkably sinister experience of Nixonian duplicity and bad faith.
(4) The use of 'suggests' and 'should' in the same sentence is noteworthy.
(5) There was an underline emphasis in the original letter. It was noticeable at this time how quick the spectre of 'students' was rolled out to cover the tracks of naked greed developers and 'buy to let' rent racketeers. One would never have guessed that by 2002 Newcastle benefited by some 350 million pounds per annum (at 2002 prices) from the presence in the city of 40,000 students. By some accounts they were the saviours of the 'corner shop' in some areas.
6. Put simply this is 'planning gain' whereby, in return for the gift of 'public open space' any 'preferred' developer would have to provide some 'recreational facilities'. Maintenance, the year on year costs to keep such facilities up to scratch, would of course, be a charge on the Council Tax payers. In my reply (See below) I pointed out that if 10% were to be granted (i.e. given away) then thereafter a precedent would have been created and further slices (in fact the whole open space) could be up for grabs. This is precisely what the developer envisaged in a three tier scheme in which the first was a 'modest' acquisition of land for car parking (1300 cars!) and the third a complete take over of the site for a flash sporting club (no doubt fee paying). Greed was their down fall and nothing more was heard of this scheme – but this does not mean the idea is dead.