Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bog or standard? We do both!

Metnor don't do architecture: They build for clients. Here are two images of 'projects' which Metnor, chosen by Newcastle City Council to 'do up' the Battlefield and City Stadium open spaces, have brought to fruition, if that is the right word.

Very clean ...

Oh, dear ...

In truth I do not care how Metnor and the University of Northumbria house the University's students. That is between themselves and the students (known in the trade these days as 'units'). What does concern me is that Newcastle City Council has decided that any scheme on the former paint factory site – Offices? No! 'Environmental' offices! No, the market has collapsed... Apartments! No... Too much poison in the soil and the credit crunch. Wait a minute, student flats! – is also license to do some 're-construction' on "threatening"* open space neither Metnor nor the University of Northumbria owns. Who put that idea into their collective heads?

I ask again: When did the City Council decide upon this? Under what measure and how did our local councillors vote? Because there was a vote, wasn't there?

* The exact word used by a PR representative to me at one of the public viewings of this tawdry scheme. "Tawdry" is my word incidentally.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Business opportunity

Offices no more. Apparently, the pressing need to provide Newcastle with yet more offices no one wants, has effortlessly been overtaken by a scheme to create a student ghetto, having only a few months prior to this been a develpment site for 500 plus apartments arranged in eight massive towers – and all by the same developer! But someone hasn't had time to alert the passing trade to this 'change of use' as my recent photograph shows. When the plans change week by week sign makers cannot really be blamed. What next? A Casino?

More posts soon and I hope a bit more of a celebratory note. Afterall, strolling through this piece of precious open space on a sunny day will soon be just a memory, courtsey of Metnor, The University of Northumbria and the City Council, who are the actual owners of the City Stadium, held in 'trust' for the whole community. How does that work, exactly?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Portland Green Revisited

Developers Metnor Property Group and partner Northumbria University have decided to produce "modified" proposals to place before Newcastle City Council for rubber stamping. Given the very brief time between the first public consultation and this one (14th–15th November) I imagine the 'modifications' to be somewhat cosmetic.

The decision to build a student housing ghetto on the former paint factory will go ahead.

But what I want to know is this:

When did the battlefield stroke City Stadium open space become the feifdom of the two proponents of this all embracing scheme?

When did our local councillors agree to allow the developers to include the open space in their plans?


Unless something amazing happens we will soon see another example of what passes for 'the planning process' in this northern outpost of insider dealing.

Until then, enjoy the 'threatening' open space while you are able.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The Fifth of November ... less about plots than pagan rites, Halloween (All Hollows Eve) the time when the spirits of the dead were frightened away.

How I wish the bangs and showers of sparks would frighten away those whose ambition is to fence in and privatise today's open space (Metnor and the University of Northumbria's plans are so formulated that that is the only reasonable conclusion one can draw from viewing them).

Why so?

Well, Metnor (or their appointed PR representives) assured me that Battlefield (which they do not own incidentally) is a threatening place, run down and uninviting. They even 'closed down' a thriving Italian restaurant alongside the open space the better perhaps to underline their point, but that is another story ...

While we still have it (and Metnor have decided to revise their plans) here is the "threatening' Battlefield open space to enjoy for at least one more early winter's night.

Footnote to Newcastle City Councillors: It is permitted to reply to an e-mail. It is quite easy but if you require assistance I am sure there are paid IT people on hand at the Civic Centre to help you.