Andrew Hebden: Innovation is the key to success

When it comes to regeneration, the North East has had its fair share of major projects, from the familiar landmarks on the banks of the Tyne to the ambitious Middlehaven scheme in Teesside

The Middlehaven site on Teesside
The Middlehaven site on Teesside

When it comes to regeneration, the North East has had its fair share of major projects, from the familiar landmarks on the banks of the Tyne to the ambitious Middlehaven scheme in Teesside, plus smaller, but equally bold, projects such as the rejuvenation of Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

Each of them is very much ‘of their time': the Baltic and Sage Gateshead being classic examples of how public funding could enable the arts to be a major source of regeneration, whilst Will Alsop's futuristic vision of Middlehaven was dreamt up in an era before the financial crisis when investors were falling over themselves to identify up-and-coming residential hotspots.

Of course, times have changed and the funding models for regeneration schemes have had to evolve as well. Fortunately, the North East is at the vanguard of this change with, for example, Gateshead currently home to two schemes which demonstrate what can be achieved.

The £150m Trinity Square scheme which has transformed the town centre, is an innovative partnership between Gateshead Council, Tesco and Northumbria University, and will see around 1,000 students living in the new development.

The council is also showing the value of partnership in delivering new housing through its Evolution scheme, where it is working with Home Group and Galliford Try under a model which sees each of the parties sharing the risks and rewards of developing multiple plots of land and building 2,400 new properties.

Such partnerships between the public and private sectors are unquestionably a great model for future schemes, which is one reason why Gateshead hosted a CBI debate on the topic of regeneration at the Baltic earlier this month.

It brought together a number of influential figures from the region and beyond to debate the barriers and opportunities for regeneration.

It proved a lively debate, with the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships, planning, inward investment, destination marketing and infrastructure all up for discussion. But it also proved how much good work is on-going .

The North East has plentiful examples of regeneration that has delivered but also some that have proved less effective and failed to reverse decline.

If we are to avoid such mistakes in future, we need to see more of the kind of innovative approaches that are being pioneered right now in places such as Gateshead.

:: Andrew Hebden is Assistant Director of CBI North East

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer