THIS week’s postcode feature centres on the NE5 area of Newcastle – where commuters can truly have the best of both worlds.
The area encompasses Blakelaw, West and East Denton, Westerhope, the Newbiggin Hall Estate, North Walbottle and the North edge of Kenton.
It is, of course, a matter of minutes from workplaces in Newcastle City Centre, and three of the North-East’s major arteries – the A1, A696 and A69, are on your doorstep – not to mention Newcastle International Airport.
But it only takes a glance in the other direction to find some of the most peaceful countryside the region has to offer.
Even before venturing too far away from home there are a dozen playing fields two golf courses to keep you occupied.
What’s of particular interest to home-buyers though, is the booming popularity of the area with developers, who have swooped on the north-western edge of the city in their droves in recent years.
New buildings have cropped up across the NE5 area, with house builders especially keen to make the most out of the strong transport links and local amenities. Wimpey’s massive Kenton Grange estate at the northern end of the Central Motorway is just one example.
First-time buyers will also be interested in 50 new homes being built on the Dunblane Estate in West Denton, which will include shared ownership homes.
A two-bedroomed house under shared ownership at a 50% share will cost £67,000.
The existing housing stock in the area is as varied as almost anywhere else in the North. Many streets were built around the booming mining industry, with traditional pitmen’s cottages aplenty.
It also includes more luxurious homes from the past, some of which were typical of those that pit bosses lived in. More recently, the newer estates and flats have added another dimension to the NE5 market.
Within the postcode area there is a raft of local facilities, shops and supermarkets. Morrisons on the Cowgate roundabout being one, and just a few minutes away is the Kingston Park shopping centre that includes Tesco and a host of major retailers.
The area has also seen two of the North’s most famous sportsmen lend their names to community projects. The Alan Shearer Centre has recently opened just off the West Road to help charity St Cuthbert’s Care look after disabled youngsters and their families.
And boxing superstar Glenn McCrory has based his International School of Boxing on the Newbiggin Hall Estate.
The sporting activities in NE5 don’t stop there. It is also home to both Whorlton Grange Golf Club and Newcastle United Golf Club, Cowgate Leisure Centre and the Outer West Swimming Pool.
The village of Westerhope has one of the region’s most interesting recent stories to tell, so much so that many regard it as unrecognisable from a decade ago.
Situated four miles to the west of the city centre, it became part of the Newcastle Council area in 1974, but has retained much of its independent atmosphere, with the A1 separating it from the urban core.
In the mid-1990s it had one of the worst reputations on Tyneside for crime, but a massive police operation in 1997 heralded a new era for villagers in which crime rates have fallen lower and lower since.
Westerhope’s Millennium clock was unveiled in June 2000, having been paid for by locals, and it has become an additional feature in the village’s frequent triumphs in the annual “Villages in Bloom" competition.
The rest of NE5 continues to grow. Supermarket chain Morrisons is set to start work on a new store with new shops and a new health centre on the site of the old Denton Park Shopping Centre.
Elsewhere, the new Thomas Bewick School on Linhope Road, for pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, will open in June 2008, a new state-of-the-art Sports Centre at All Saints College is now open.
Residents have been given a say over how a lot of council money is spent in the area, last year choosing to erect a new stone feature at Denton Park House, pay for improvements to the West Denton allotment site and host an inter-generational event hosted by the Burnside Youth Drop-In Centre.
The rejuvenation of the housing stock in the area has continued, with hundreds of households recently given a new, greener energy supply thanks to a new community programme.
More than 650 families in West Denton and Blakelaw were connected to gas mains for the first time as part of a project by non-profit organisation Community Energy Solutions (CES).
Out and about
Transport: Road transport is excellent, with the A1, A69, A696 and central motorway all close by. There are frequent bus services into the city centre and out to Northumberland. The airport is just a few miles away.
Shopping: Morrisons at Cowgate or Tesco Extra at Kingston Park are the biggest, but Kwik Save and Aldi in Westerhope offer alternatives and a new Morrisons is being built in West Denton.
Each of the areas within NE5 contains its own local facilities, at Blakelaw, West Denton, Westerhope and North Walbottle. Kingston Park offers bigger stores, while Newcastle City Centre is close by.
Leisure: Sports facilities at Cowgate Leisure Centre and The Outer West Pool, both of which have swimming pools, gyms with modern fitness equipment and indoor sports facilities. To enjoy the outdoors, the north-west corner of the area is dominated with wonderful open space and countryside.
Nuns Moor Park is within the NE5 area and has a pleasant blend of formal and semi-natural features. It hosts Tyneside Croquet Club, an all weather games area, and there are two tennis courts. Within the park there is a play area.
Schools: Include: Westerhope First School; St Marks RC Primary School; Beechhill Primary School; Simonside Community Primary School; Farne Primary School; Cheviot Primary School; Chevyside Middle School; St John Vianney Catholic Primary School; West Denton Primary School; Milecastle Primary School; Walbottle Campus Lower School; Thomas Bewick and All Saints College.
Famous names: Watch out in West Denton for Alan Shearer visiting the centre named after him, and paid for with some of his testimonial cash, or Glenn McCrory at his boxing academy in Newbiggin Hall.
Estate agent Marilyn McKale explains why a growing number of buyers are looking to buy in and around Westerhope, in Newcastle.
AS a local estate agent and a long time resident of NE5, I would say the best way to describe Westerhope and its surroundings is an “up and coming” area, particularly with the first time buyers.
And don’t forget that it’s a great place to live.
In fact, Westerhope and the NE5 region is probably one of the few places in England that first time buyers still have the opportunity to get on the ladder in the housing market.
Situated four miles from Newcastle city centre, Westerhope has excellent public transport and local amenities including schools, libraries, and not to mention the famous Jingling Gate pub.
With easy access to Newcastle Airport and the main A1, it is an ideal location for the busy commuters among us.
Westerhope village itself still retains its independent feel and proudly enters and wins the “Villages in Bloom” competition held every year.
Another influence in the life of people today is the local Church of St John’s which was built in 1911, and enlarged shortly afterwards.
Originally a pit village on the outskirts of Newcastle the village consists of a mix of housing ranging from pit cottages to merchant dwellings.
The 1970s saw a surge house building in the surrounding areas and Chapel Park and Chapel House Estate emerged which still offer high class affordable housing today.
This is a vibrant area if you can’t get what you want in the village, Kingston Park Shopping Centre, the MetroCentre and Newcastle city centre are a short car journey or bus ride away.
With a great range of properties, including genuinely affordable housing, great people and all the amenities I would really recommend buyers of all types of properties to take a look at what the west has to offer.
Marilyn McKale is proprietor of Marilyn McKale Estate Agents which has branches in Westerhope and Lemington Road Ends, West Denton, www.marilynmckale.co.uk The Westerhope branch can be contacted on (0191) 286-8100.
After 46 years, still the best place to be
ROSALYNDE WALKER moved to Westerhope in Newcastle from Haltwhistle, Northumberland, 46 years ago – and is in no hurry to leave.
Her career in teaching brought her to Westerhope when she took a job as deputy head at Newbiggin Hall.
Rosalynde has treasured memories of her life in Westerhope, where she lived with her late husband George.
“It was a village when we came. We took the country bus out there. I used to come here when I was five as I had an aunt here. She spotted the house for us when we moved here, she said.”
Rosalynde has seen many changes to the one-time country village as it has become a city suburb, with easy access to Newcastle and beyond.
She has seen many changes, but still draws a sense of community from St John’s Westerhope Church.
She said: “I wouldn’t find anywhere I liked nicer. Someone told me last week the street I live in is called ‘Millionaires Row’.
“I have never heard that. My neighbours aren’t stuck up or anything like that. They are lovely people.”
Rosalynde runs her charity, North-East Promenaders Against Cancer, from home in memory of George, who died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
It raises funds for cancer research, including bone marrow transplants at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, and for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
For details of North-East Promenaders Against Cancer, go to www.nepac.org.uk