Focus on Newcastle and its suburbs: Diverse activity in and out of city

Two commercial property experts look at the activity in Newcastle and its suburbs

Gosforth High Street
Gosforth High Street

Gosforth is perhaps the most notable suburb of Newcastle in relation to the commercial property market, primarily as a result of the office core at and around the Regent Centre and the traditional high street retail area, writes Tony Wordsworth

The most significant recent office transaction was the acquisition of the 100,000 sq ft Regent Point office building by The Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust. There have also been significant lettings at Partnership House, Regent Centre where AMEC Group occupied 30,000 sq ft on the sixth and seventh floors with Astrium taking a lease of 6,375 sq ft on the ninth.

North Star House, Gosforth, formerly occupied by Cussins Homes and Inland Revenue was acquired by Daft as a Brush, a charity set up by Brian Burnie to support cancer patients. GVA have been instructed to market the ground floor of the building which has been re-named Daft as a Brush House.

Whereas Great Park was seen as being a major office park and employment area for Gosforth / north Newcastle, development activity has slowed throughout the recession with only limited speculative development.

This is primarily as a result of funding difficulties and competition from Enterprise Zones including Quorum and Cobalt Park with their funding advantages. The park does, however, host the huge Sage headquarters and residential development.

Perhaps the busiest Newcastle suburb in terms of construction activity extends to the east of the Central Motorway at Shieldfield and along City Road, New Bridge Street, Melbourne Street, Portland Road and Stoddart Street which has become the focus for new build student housing schemes. This follows on the conversion of the former Berger Paints building for such use and there has been a proliferation of projects on development sites as they became available.

The establishment of the new Northumbria University Campus has been the catalyst for new development and investment activity to the east of the city centre which has helped regenerate an area previously in decline. There is also evidence of strong interest by financial institutions to diversify and invest within the student housing sector within the provincial cities including Newcastle. This will maintain development momentum in a key area of the city linking towards Ouseburn and the Quayside.

Tony Wordsworth, GVA director national markets – offices

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It's easy to overlook the contribution of Newcastle’s suburbs to the region’s commercial property market revival, writes Neil Hart. Places such as Heaton and Gosforth are thriving hubs that have witnessed plenty of recent activity in the industrial and retail sectors.

This has led to the return of the local independent trader to the city’s suburbs. With many large city centre-based retailers struggling, opportunities have arisen for smaller, more agile independent companies to open up in well-placed but less cluttered suburban areas.

Earlier this year, Bradley Hall acquired a mixed-use parade of shops on Canterbury Way in Wideopen. Every single unit – including a small tea room, a butcher’s shop, bakery, hair salon and vets – has now been let to a local operator.

Other areas are also benefiting. Chillingham Road, in Heaton, is buzzing with activity while there are high occupancy rates in business units in Gosforth.

The picture in city centre locations is different. Larger retailers are reducing space requirements in shopping arcades such as Eldon Square where many traditional high street units have vanished to be replaced by online portals.

Supermarket giant Tesco saw like-for-like sales fall 3.7% in the three months to May 25 – its worst performance for more than 20 years. I have no doubt that some of this is down to the rise of the neighbourhood butcher, baker and cake maker.

Although many businesses in central Newcastle are increasing sales, a key trend is the emergence of smaller independent traders in the suburbs. It is easy to see why. Heaton, Gosforth and Wideopen are all near main transport routes and close to densely populated areas.

Industrial firms have also benefited from setting up a base in locations such as Cobalt Business Park and Brunswick Industrial Estate. In the last couple of years companies in out-of-town locations have benefited from generous rental deals as developers seek to fill unoccupied units.

The revival of the local trader in suburban areas has had a positive impact on the local economy and will continue to do so.

Neil Hart, director, Bradley Hall

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