Monday, September 22, 2008

Mean Streets Revisited

Today the news is all about the Credit Crunch and fears of a 'melt down' as one huge, vast even, financial mismanagement of the economy by bankers and financiers comes home to roost. In the light of this, development is a long way off for Battlefield. I now very seriously doubt whether the five hundred plus flats and apartments planned for the former paint factory site – is there a curse? – will go ahead. It is doubtful if the 'environmentally sound' offices due to be constructed on the old Reg Vardy car showrooms (see previous posts for images) will, either.

In some ways I am relieved. In others not so. (Quite apart from natural human decency in regardling the consequences for millions of people's livelihoods.) However, I would welcome appropriate development of the Shieldfield–Battlefield–Lower Ouseburn which respects the efforts that have already been made, enhances the character of the area and promotes a diverse useage. What is not wanted is a monoculture of rabbit hutch 'studio dwellings' and empty offices.

To continue ...

The route from Shieldfield to Stepney Bank, looking back towards Shieldfield. Just beyond the railway arch to the right is a pathway entrance to Battlefield Open Space. This area is rich in development sites.

One of the old, 19th century houses on Stepney Bank.

New build on Stepney Bank. The white painted building on the left is the home of Northern Print, an artist's printmaking workshop. Note the steepness of the roadway.

The bottom of Stepney Bank. The pale green ended building is a public house (pub) and beyond it is the entrance to Byker City Farm, one of the original pathfinder ventures in the Lower Ouseburn's regeneration in the late 20th century.

Another pioneer of the 'new' Lower Ouseburn was the Stepney Bank Riding Stables who have been providing opportunities for inner city kids to have access to horses and horse riding for decades. This view includes their marvellous new indoor facility (right). Peeping over the top of the nearest building is the 'staircase' of the National Centre for the Children's Book, 'Seven Stories', an important new cultural site in the region for book illustration and the celebration of children's literature. 

To come: More on the potential in the Shieldfield–Battlefield–Ouseburn area for a mix of open space, recreation, work and living.

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