Buccleuch set to resurrect plans for Newcastle office scheme

PROPERTY firm Buccleuch is to resurrect plans for a speculative Newcastle office scheme although this time around the scheme leaves no room for the reconstruction of a 190-year-old Presbyterian chapel brought down by the snow.

The proposed Fusion office scheme in Newcastle
The proposed Fusion office scheme in Newcastle

PROPERTY firm Buccleuch is to resurrect plans for a speculative Newcastle office scheme although this time around the scheme leaves no room for the reconstruction of a 190-year-old Presbyterian chapel brought down by the snow.

The Scottish company – boosted financially by last month’s £5m sale of Higham House to Newcastle City Council – expects to submit new plans for the city centre site at the junction of Clavering Place and Hanover Square within weeks.

In 2007 it secured planning permission for a 48,000sq ft office development, known as Fusion, which would have included the 1822 Grade II-listed Presbyterian chapel.

The £11m vision was to keep the chapel as office space, within a glazed new office development.

However, days before Christmas, the roof collapsed under the weight of an amalgamation of weeks of snow and ice and the subsequent instability of the building led to it being demolished.

Sandy Smith, development director of Edinburgh-based Buccleuch Property, said: “It was incredibly frustrating. This was a strategic development in which we had great confidence when the market was right.

“We have been working with the city council on bringing forward a refurbishment scheme in keeping with the character of the location.

“However, we will not be able to resurrect the scheme, and we will not be rebuilding the chapel, but we are now working with the council on delivering an alternative office scheme on that site.

“It’s a great location for a commercial building with the new Sleeperz hotel going up nearby on Westgate Road, and the imminent start of work at the nearby Stephenson Quarter.”

Smith went on to say that the development would be in sympathy with the lines of the windows and height of the chapel and the new proposals would be similar to the previous ones.

He said the new scheme would be working on the same 48,000sq ft scale and would include underground parking. He went on to say there was a demand for Grade A office space, of a smaller size, in Newcastle although the scheme may not be brought forward as quickly as they would like due to the lack of debt finance in the market.

Buccleuch’s coffers were boosted last month after it secured more than £5m from Newcastle City Council for Higham Place, a building the council says is vital to its stalled East Pilgrim Street retail-led mixed-use scheme.

Also on the east of the city, Buccleuch, the property arm of Borders landowner the Duke of Buccleuch, owns the land once occupied by the Tyne Tees Television studios and popular pub The Egypt Cottage.

Smith went on to say it was looking at a range of options for the two-acre site, including offices, hotels, student accommodation and retail, although it was some way from being developed in the current flat, commercial property market

The 190-year-old chapel was designed by John Green, who was part of the father-and-son team which created the Theatre Royal and Grey’s Monument in Newcastle.

 
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