Hundreds more student flats are being planned for Newcastle city centre site

The former Westgate House and the adjacent Norwich Union House, would see a seven-storey complex housing 250 student studios

Westgate House, Newcastle before it was demolished
Westgate House, Newcastle before it was demolished

Hundreds more student flats are being planned for a city centre site left empty since the demolition of a notorious eyesore more than seven years ago.

The latest plans for the site of the former Westgate House and the adjacent Norwich Union House, on Westgate Road in Newcastle, would see a seven-storey complex housing 250 student studios as well as a communal area, restaurant and bar on the ground floor.

The site has been empty since the 13-story Westgate House was demolished in 2007, though a number of plans for replacement buildings since then have never come to fruition.

The current proposals have sparked a mixed reaction, with objectors citing its position in the Grainger Town conservation area and the rash of student flats being proposed in the city centre in recent weeks.

One objection submitted to Newcastle City Council said: “This proposal is an absolute travesty, to both the city centre as whole, and also to neighbouring properties in the area.

“The impact in terms of noise pollution, traffic, local business will be significant ­ this site would be much more effective as an office block.”

But one anonymous resident submitted a supporting comment in support that said: “I believe these plans offer a modern but respectful nod to the elegance and grandeur of its neighbours.”

Architecture firm Fuse Studios have designed the proposed building and applied for planning permission on behalf of Westgate Road Newcastle Limited. The plans are currently in the consultation stage.

Neil Adamson, from the developers, said: “We have submitted a planning application for a development at 42-44 Westgate Road for a luxury student accommodation scheme.

“It is our desire to bring this abandoned but prominent building back into use as a valuable amenity for the region. The plans are for 259 self-contained studios and four two-bedroom apartments, alongside a dedicated communal area and ground floor restaurant space.

“The exterior has been purposefully designed so that the project reflects the neighbouring architecture and character of the area.

“The development will represent the very finest student residences available in Newcastle and there is nothing comparable in the region. Building purpose-built student accommodation in popular university cities like Newcastle ensures that housing remains available for local residents rather than being converted to houses in multiple occupation.”

Westgate House was a 13 storey 1970s landmark in the city but was often cited as one of the ugliest in Britain. Its demolition was completed in February 2007, but the planned demolition of Norwich Union House never took place.

Later that year developer Centreland put up plans for a £30m office block on the sites of both Norwich Union House and Westgate House, but work never began.

In 2010, the firm behind the Radisson Blue hotel chain announced plans to open a 170­-room hotel on the site, but this too was abandoned.

In recent weeks three other student accommodation blocks have been proposed in the city centre, including one nearby on the site of the Newgate Shopping Centre.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
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