You might have noted several cleared sites around the town centre awaiting development. The former Georgia Pacific site is one. An application was made recently to create a supermarket with a five storey hotel above it. However this appeared to be only part of the application. A Hilton Hotel was also planned for the site. An application went to the NBC Planning Committee on 9 September for the hotel and supermarket. It was rejected by Councillors (although it had support from paid Officers).
It was felt that as this was such a prominent site, a development reflecting that significance would have been more appropriate – and this did not necessarily mean a large flamboyant building. It was generally agreed that the building and its design would be too high for the site in that part of town and given the proximity to three listed buildings – Maxims next door, and St Giles and the Unitarian churches opposite. It was also considered by some that ninety seven parking spaces would be insufficient to service the supermarket and the potential 200 + bedroom hotels. Additionally, had the supermarket development gone ahead there was a fear that three supermarkets on three blocks on that side of the town, could have adversely affected the smaller shops and market trade in the town centre.
Given the size and potential impact of the development on the whole borough, residents who made a verbal submission to the Planning Committee meeting were concerned that consultation with local people, in their view, had been insufficient. Indeed, the role of consultation is becoming more important as the development of Newcastle gathers pace. It is also important that more residents become involved in what is happening to the town centre as well as to their own neighbourhood.
Clearance and redevelopment is again with us. Let us hope that the mistakes made in the 1960s are not repeated.
What will happen next? Watch this space!!