£47m plan to develop land near St James' Park could create 500 construction jobs

A consultation event for proposals to develop the site around the St James Metro carpark takes place this week

The site for the proposed mix use development around St James Metro car park
The site for the proposed mix use development around St James Metro car park

Around 500 construction jobs could be created as part of a £47m mixed use development earmarked for land close to Newcastle United’s St James’ Park ground.

Gateshead-based Tolent Construction is poised to submit plans to Newcastle City Council for a four-building development on the site adjacent to St James Metro station.

The multi-million pound development would see the creation of a hotel, 50 residential apartments, 700-bed student accommodation and shops, as well as surrounding landscaping.

And ahead of its submission to the council, Tolent – through the firm’s property agents Newcastle-based ES Group – is seeking local views on the development plans through a consultation event outlining the site’s potential future.

Newcastle City Council and MGM Grand Newcastle Ltd, the new name for Newcastle United Holdings Ltd, both stand to benefit from the land deal.

The freehold is owned by Nexus but the site is held by way of a 125-year long lease in the name of Newcastle United Holdings Ltd, whilst the city council also owns a strip of land to the south of the site, extending to the back of the pavement.

Under the terms of the Newcastle City Deal, the council has secured the right to retain all business rate growth within the Accelerated Development Zone for 25 years and as this site forms part of this zone it would reap the financial benefit from the planned hotel development.

Helen Marks, planning consultant from ES Group, said: “The proposals include a hotel, flats, student accommodation and commercial floorspace, with landscaped public open spaces.

“We are inviting local residents to see and comment on the proposals before we submit the planning application to Newcastle City Council on behalf of our client Gateshead-based Tolent Construction Limited.

“The development, which is adjacent to St James’s Metro station, will consist of four buildings including a tower of up to 24 storeys at the head of St James Boulevard.

“Two blocks will provide student accommodation comprising over 700 bed spaces, communal space with commercial/retail space on the ground floor.

“In addition, 50 flats would be provided above the main development in a building near the Leazes Conservation area.

“The Bobby Robson memorial garden will be unaffected by the development and improvements to the public realm will make it easier for fans to access the stadium from the city centre on match days.”

The site of the proposed development on land close to St James Metro in Newcastle
The site of the proposed development on land close to St James Metro in Newcastle

John Wood, chairman of Tolent Construction, added: “The value of the construction work is £47m. The project will create 500 construction jobs over a period of two years, providing work for our local workforce that will be further increased by the recruitment of additional apprentices.

“We will actively give preference to other local companies for the elements of the work that will be subcontracted to ensure that whenever possible the money is re-invested into the local economy.”

Proposals for the site have long courted controversy and at one point it formed the proposed site for a city centre “super casino”.

Last year members of the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust lodged an application to the council for the stadium to be listed as an “asset of community value”, meaning the ground would not able to be sold without the local community being informed and being given the opportunity to bid for it themselves.

That status was granted in October 2014, but it is not known how the judgement will impact on the council, Metro operator Nexus and MGM’s intended decision.

The surrounding area has seen significant development in recent years.

The nearby Newcastle Brewery and bottling plant have been demolished and replaced with student accommodation and Newcastle University’s Business School, the former Scottish and Newcastle HQ office block has been converted into the Sandman Signature Hotel and new offices have been constructed at Citygate and Wellbar Central on Gallowgate.

All members of the public are welcome to attend the consultation event, taking place on Thursday, at The Sandman Signature’s Porter Suite from 3.30pm until 7pm.

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