Revelopment of Gateshead and Newcastle proves the case for devolution, report says

Grainger Town, Hadrian's Wall and Gateshead Quays are used as examples of why more power should be given to councils

Grainger Town
Grainger Town

A new report has hailed the success of three North East planning initiatives and has called for power to be devolved to local councils to encourage more of the same.

The investigation by the influential Royal Town Planning Institute, the body representing professional planners, praised the Grainger Town Partnership in Newcastle and the regeneration of Gateshead Quays.

The Success and Innovation in Planning report also lauded plans for Hadrian’s Wall.

All three were singled out for praise as the Institute called for power to be taken away from central government and given to local councils.

Institute president Cath Ranson said devolving extra powers to councils like Newcastle would bring immense benefits.

She said: “Both the Grainger Town Partnership and the regeneration of Gateshead Quays show the ability of planning to transform places significantly for the better.

“With a proven track record of delivering successful projects, there is good reason to believe places like Newcastle could flourish if given more powers and responsibility.

“These projects were a standout success and the local communities can be proud of their own achievements in bringing these about, as well as proud of their local council planning teams.”

Her comment was welcomed by Ged Bell, Newcastle Council’s Member for Investment and Development, who also called for more control over planning.

He said: “The Grainger Town Partnership did much to arrest the decline of some of Newcastle’s most beautiful buildings and levered in millions of pounds of private investment in the process.

“Newcastle is at the forefront of the devolution debate, and greater powers to allow us to develop our city centre would be most welcome.

“Devolving planning powers would give the council, its partners and communities more influence in developing a city centre fit for the 21st century.”

The Institute said councils should be fee to get on with planning work without central interference to dream up new projects.

The report was carried out by Professor Geoff Vigar, Dr Paul Cowie, and Emeritus Professor Patsy Healey OBE, at the Global Urban Research Unit, Newcastle University.

The report said: “Grainger Town was a largely forgotten space both lost between part of the area covered then by the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation and the monolithic shopping area of Eldon Square and suffering from a lack of strategy for it and the wider city centre as a whole.

“The aim of the project was to make Grainger Town a high quality environment appropriate to a major European regional capital.

“The Grainger Town Project was an undoubted success. Economic decline was halted and the physical deterioration of the area tackled.”

The report also praised the development of Gateshead Quays and said it was not just the Baltic and the Sage which was responsible for its transformation.

It said: “As well as the two iconic buildings around 4,600 new homes have been created in the vicinity of the Quayside. The developments have created an estimated 6,000 jobs in both the permanent institutions directly and in other developments such as the Baltic Business Quarter close by.

“The Business Quarter is attractive to business in part because of the buzz and prestige created by having nationally significant cultural projects nearby.”

The report also hailed the management of Hadrian’s Wall describing the plans for the site as a standout example of forward planning when preserving a world heritage site.

The Institute said: “A clear management plan can continue to conserve important heritage sites in the face of increasing budget cuts and a lack of statutory protection.

“Now heritage sites across the world, not just in the UK, have a model they can look up to. Leadership coupled with a comprehensive and ambitious management plan made the project a standout success.”

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