Major business drive to boost Newcastle forges ahead

Multi-million pound plans to promote Newcastle's shops, restaurants and entertainment venues are being consulted on

NE1 employees help the public in Newcastle
NE1 employees help the public in Newcastle

City businesses are being consulted about multi-million pound plans to make Newcastle more attractive for shoppers, tourists and families.

The aim is to build on a successful initiative launched in 2009 which has raised more than £30m for city centre improvements.

The idea is to promote the city’s shops, restaurants and entertainment venues and make the streets safer, cleaner and greener. 

Newcastle NE1 Ltd, a not-for-profit company which runs the initiative, is seeking to continue it for another five years.

If the initiative is extended, plans include major capital projects to make the main shopping centre around Northumberland Street and Percy Street more attractive and maintain Newcastle’s place as the premier shopping centre in the region, along with improvements to the Bigg Market, the heart of the city’s night life.

NE1 will work to increase the number of retailers involved in the Alive After Five initiative and continue the subsidy for free parking.

The aim is to attract  more families and young people to the city centre.

A pavement cafe licence will be sought for the Quayside to give the area a ‘city waterfront’ feel and the city’s vibrant night life will be developed while more events are proposed for the marina. Street rangers and the clean team will work more closely with council enforcement teams to manage anti social behaviour and work will be carried out with Northumbria Police to reduce losses from retail crime.

More than 1,300 businesses are set to be balloted in October on whether to extend the scheme for another five years. If they agree, nearly £10m will be raised through the levy and millions more is expected from outside contributions.

Sean Bullick, chief executive of NE1, said  they are consulting with businesses. A draft business plan document has been sent out and this will be finalised and circulated in September.

“We are working very closely with businesses and we hope the final business plan document will represent what they want to see done,’’ said Mr Bullick.

“The first five years have shown what the business community working together can really deliver in terms of improving the economic environment of Newcastle and making it a more attractive place to live, work and visit.

“With regard to the future, we very much hope we can continue this close relationship with businesses and deliver improvements across a wide range of areas that cement Newcastle’s role as the regional capital.’’

One of the biggest projects so far is a £20m facelift for Newcastle Central Station.

Another major success is the Alive after Five initiative, launched in October 2010, which extended shop opening to 8pm with free parking in the council’s multi-storeys after 5pm, worth an estimated £220m in extra spending by shoppers. Newcastle City Marina has been developed with pontoons on the Quayside and has attracted 600 boats since it opened in 2012.

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