Sunday, January 25, 2009


After a false start, Newcastle City Council's website is now open for inspection of the above prosaically numbered planning application. Details on how to access the site (not at all easy) can be found below.

My own twopenny worth was as follows.*


The scale of the scheme is considerable (2000 units), additional to existing student accomodation adjacent to the site or within short walking distance. Traffic flows and pedestrian movements between Portland Road and the University. Security for occupants and restrictions on public movement to and from historic Ouseburn.

Visual impact on adjacent open space and views from open space towards Tyne and City. Real and potential negative impacts on Historic Ouseburn by reason of scale of the scheme and upon the ongoing regeneration of that area by virtue of overwhelming scale.

The proponents of the scheme have displayed plans for an extensive "re-modelling" of the nearby City Stadium without explaining how this land, which they do not own or control, becomes part of this scheme. Justified and well founded concerns for the future public access to the open space and the wildlife. Access to Lower Ouseburn via the open space. Effective 'privatisation' of the open space. Creation of a public obligation to maintain both hard and soft features on the open space.


* Comments via the web site are limited to 6000 characters, so a certain brevity is called for.

In essence I am not opposed to students, Universites or re-building over the former paint factory site and this option, student halls of residence may in fact be better than any previous scheme, if it is handled properly. The key is the scale and scope of the scheme and local impacts. Having said that, a good scheme could 'uplift' the whole Shieldfield area and produce much that would benefit the wider community.

The Lower Ouseburn re-generation has still much exciting potential and if the (at present) undervalued by-ways which connect the Lower Ouseburn to Shieldfield were to be sensitively re-developed (and some have and are being so re-developed) then fine.

What displeased me at the time of the public consultations was the tone of the conversation I had about the open space – my 'Battlefield' – which turned on how "threatening" it was and the usual charmless "Let us take it off your hands" line being thrown by Metnor's PR company.

Battlefield plays host to many informal activities and several other kinds of life forms week in and week out. It is no more threatening after dark than several London Parks and I see no one is proposing to close these or build over them. Promoting their scheme by highlighting "local problems" was a shoddy tactic on behalf of the proposers and it is surely right to give it an airing here.

Newcastle City Council web site link here.

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