After years of funding delays Newcastle’s £200m Stephenson Quarter development now looks set to welcome its first tenants by the summer of 2015.
The 10-acre site behind Newcastle Central Station — named after the Robert Stephenson train making works which occupied the land — was granted planning permission in 2008 as part of a unique buy-back deal with Newcastle City Council. The authority purchased the site for £10m and allowed Silverlink to purchase plots at market price as and when it was ready, making it easier to finance the development.
Work stopped when Silverlink failed to secure funding during the financial crisis, but restarted last spring with backing from Aviva and Royal Bank of Scotland. Phase one of the development includes a four-star Crowne Plaza Hotel and conference centre and 35,000sq ft of Grade A office space. There will also be a 357-space multi-storey car park and an innovative sedum green roof.
Michelle Percy is a director of Silverlink Holdings.
“The city’s commitment demonstrates our shared confidence that this exciting, strategic development will deliver jobs and wealth and establish a vibrant, engaging new quarter to the city in the coming years, complementing and reinforcing Newcastle’s position as a key European destination,” she said.
The rest of the work is expected to be completed by 2019 and will add more offices, a boutique hotel, residential apartments and retail units. At least 325 jobs will be created during construction stage with 2,200 permanent posts when the project is completed.
The development will also restore some significant heritage buildings, including the offices at 20 South Street, where Robert Stephenson’s engineering works produced locomotives for the first railways in the 1820s.
Sunderland-based engineering consultancy Desco has provided the mechanical and electrical designs for the development, with the building work carried out by Miller Construction.
“Because of the nature of the location, contours in the ground and current restrictions to the site, the project has been a challenge but one which is proving incredibly rewarding as we’re starting to see the development take shape and move forward at a rapid pace,” explained Desco director George Gifford.
“We are all excited by the potential the Stephenson Quarter has to transform the area connecting Newcastle’s Quayside with the Central Gateway Project and the city centre by creating thriving residential, working and cultural areas and supporting the growth of the regional economy,” he added.
Coming at a time when there is growing demand for prime commercial office space on Tyneside, and Newcastle in particular, Gifford described the project as one of the biggest moves forward in the city’s history. Its biggest selling point, however, was undoubtedly its green credentials.
“Sustainable design is a vital element to the Stephenson Quarter project. We’re working within ever tighter regulations on the use of energy within buildings, we have to streamline processes to a higher degree than ever before, and we always aspire to provide our clients with an energy-saving, cost effective design that maximises sustainable, green options,” said Gifford.
Silverlink is also responsible for a second major Newcastle regeneration project. Its Trinity Gardens development on the Quayside contains 200,000sq ft of office accommodation, a hotel, restaurants, and more than 50 luxury apartments.