A GROUP dedicated to protecting Newcastle’s heritage and character is calling on residents to object to the demolition of a historic town centre building.

Newcastle Civic Society is taking a stand against borough council plans to replace the former St Giles’ and St George’s School with a four-storey “Civic Hub” overlooking the Queen’s Gardens.

A petition against the proposals, started by Civic Society member Kenneth Glover, has gathered more than 1,000 signatures since its launch four weeks ago.

And the Society is now urging residents to object formally to the proposals via the borough council’s planning website before the consultation deadline of February 16.

“We are not averse to change and modernisation but we have to be very careful how this takes place and what is removed,” said society chairman Joan Howe. “Despite the four years of preparation and consultation with officers, councillors and other agencies involved with the project, the public appear to have been kept in the dark. Indeed, the application was made to the planning office on January 25 before any wider public consultation had taken place.  This is surprising given the importance and scale of this building, the cost of which will be met by the general public.”

The application to demolish the school was passed by the council’s planning committee on January 6 and the school will be demolished within six months once plans for the new building have been approved.

The new building will house the library, the register office, health workers, the Borough Council and some County Council staff, some social services and the police.  There will be 30 car parking spaces, 13 for police cars and a bicycle park for 100 bicycles.

The Civic Society has formally objected in the strongest terms to the demolition of the school and to the new building as they feel it would be out of keeping with the Victorian buildings and ambiance of this part of town’s conservation area.

Miss Howe added: “Putting everyone into one building will mean that many other buildings – some of which are listed – will be left empty in the town centre and subject to demolition and deterioration.

“The scale of development for Newcastle would appear to be at the levels witnessed in the 1960s when the Municipal Hall was demolished and when it was fashionable to remove historic buildings in town and city centres and replace them with modern architecture – some of which in the 21st century have become run-down eye-sores.

“Given that the Borough Council has yet to produce a Development Plan all this would appear to be somewhat premature and ad hoc development.”

  • Residents can object to the proposals online on the council website at before February 16.



Release immediate


9 February 2016