Sean Bullick: My vision for NewcastleGateshead Quayside

The Chief Executive of NE1 Ltd explains his vision for the Quayside following the Live Theatre's final piece of the jigsaw gaining permission

Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside
Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside

The fortunes of Newcastle’s Quayside have always been cyclical. Centuries of maritime history shaped the city and the Tyne and its shores are often seen as the last piece in the city’s regeneration jigsaw.

The Quayside is now enjoying what many consider to be its third phase of revival with the latest wave of regeneration, with the Live Theatre being granted permission for its new building.

In the 80s and 90s, the Newcastle side saw massive redevelopment with the city’s leisure industry fuelling the revival with bars and restaurants taking up residence on the Quayside in many of its historic buildings.

Come the 90s and early noughties and it was Gateshead’s turn to undergo the transformation with the Sage, Baltic and Millennium bridge all taking shape on the other side of the river.

Now the time is ripe for Newcastle to again enjoy another raft of redevelopment. Jim Berne’s multi-million plans for the Live Theatre together with other activity on the Quayside are renewing interest and excitement in the area as a crucial destination within the city.

An artist's impression of the building planned by Live Theatre for a long-vacant plot on Newcastle Quayside

Of late, the city’s leisure trail had changed direction away from the Quayside to what is dubbed the platinum strip up Dean Street and Grey Street – but fuelled by a growing number of top class restaurants on and around the Quayside in Broad Chare, Cafe 21, House of Tides and others the wave has shifted again. This time round, I’m confident that all areas will continue to thrive as the town is big enough for both to do well.

Major efforts have been channelled into infusing new life into the Quayside and making it a destination worthy of its place as a European regional capital. As well as the physical redevelopment of buildings which is starting again, efforts are being channelled into bringing the place to life and signposting it across the city. We’ve just secured permission to allow businesses to open pavement cafes over the summer, this will give the area a continental feel with alfresco dining, an ideal accompaniment to the Newcastle City Marina which attracts visiting yachts from all over the UK and Europe.

NE1’s Quayside Seaside, pop up beach is also incredibly popular and a great way to attract tourists and city workers as well as a great device for giving the city a national profile, with numerous photos and stories on the pop up beach appearing in the national press.

The Sunday market is another valuable attraction and one that has been completely reinvigorated securing a well earned placed as a firm fixture on the Quayside tourist trail. Gone are the days when the weekly Quayside market was a single burger van and white sock salesmen, now it is a welcome tourist attraction with good quality food stores from all over the world, artisan jewellery and a healthy mix of art and other stalls.

What the marina, market and pavement cafes all do is support the significant upturn in the Quayside’s fortunes and make it stronger and more capable of withstanding any future swings in fickle fashions.

Creating a waterfront that is a match for any of our European regional capital competitors, such as Copenhagen, Hamburg and the like has been achieved and we’re determined to invest to ensure that it maintains and strengthens this position.

There is obviously still work to be done to tackle the empty buildings and vacant units but we’re moving in the right direction.


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