New life for railway arches

A NEGLECTED corner of Newcastle city centre is set to be reborn with the development of two major, multi-million pound regeneration schemes.

A NEGLECTED corner of Newcastle city centre is set to be reborn with the development of two major, multi-million pound regeneration schemes.

Railway arches owned by Network Rail at the bottom end of Westgate Road will be extensively refurbished into office, retail and leisure units, and these will complement the refurbished, Grade II-Listed Coopers Auction Mart building – most recently used by car rental company Hertz – which is to be redeveloped into office space for up to 115 workers.

With an old warehouse structure next to the Tokyo bar also due for demolition, to be replaced by a £5m hotel built by Suffolk company Sleeperz, the entire area looks set to be transformed over the next few years.

The development will also complement larger schemes being put forward to the south of the station, by Silverlink of Newcastle and Buccleuch from Edinburgh.

The 15 arches being developed stand both on Westgate Road and on Forth Street, underneath the railway viaduct carrying trains into Newcastle Central Station.

They are empty, with the site secured by a Loveland, a South Yorkshire firm of contractors. Previous occupiers including car repair company Quick Fit have now moved out of the units.

Dermot Skelly of Network Rail’s property company Spacia, said: “We have consent to refurbish those arches into a range of different units.

“They have quite small floor plates – 400sqft to 500sqft, so in total we will create around 7,500sqft.

“We are looking at creating office/retail units, and an element of leisure too. And with the Sleeperz Hotel site, we are looking at retail and office space underneath the hotel as well.

“The type of occupiers that were there in these units are not suitable for the area any more, with the Stephenson Quarter scheme which Silverlink are putting forward. Unfortunately, the arches are not very good at retaining water, so we take a belt and braces approach to making them watertight, with a membrane to keep out moisture.”

Mr Skelly said Spacia would use different finishes on the various arches, dependent on their exact location.

“On Westgate Road, we will use a traditional approach, in keeping with the frontages there at the moment. Further up at the Sleeperz hotel, we would take a more modern approach – with steel and glass. On Forth Street, it would be a happy medium between those two approaches.”

The former Hertz building has been vacant and run down for several years now, but is set to be revamped into office space within the Grade II-Listed structure known as Coopers Auction Mart.

The completed building is expected to provide space to house up to 115 jobs.

One of the restrictions on the development of the Hertz building is that the site holds some remains of Hadrian’s Wall which are said to be of national importance.

The developers are obliged to provide some identification and interpretation of those remains for the public.

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