NE1 Ltd learnt this week that it has been successful in its bid for £1.6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The award will allow NE1 Ltd to deliver its plans to transform the historic Bigg Market area of Newcastle, restore its historic significance and ensure that it is making its rightful contribution to the city’s economic fortunes now and into the future.
The £1.6 million HLF award, with match funding from NE1 Ltd, Newcastle City Council and property owners, will deliver a total of £2.9 million investment into the Bigg Market. NE1 is confident that this will unlock further private sector investment of up to £30 million in and around the area.
Working with Newcastle City Council and the area’s property owners, NE1 will now be able to implement its plans, which were warmly received by the public and businesses, as well as by historic building enthusiasts and organisations in the North East when they were unveiled earlier this year.
The Bigg Market is at the historic heart of the city with 31 listed buildings, an ancient market area and is in close proximity to other historic city landmarks including St Nicholas’ Cathedral, the Castle Keep and the recently developed Central Station, as well as sitting astride the key pedestrian route from Central Station to Grey’s Monument.
With this funding essential conservation work can be carried out to listed buildings and improving shopfronts. The public realm will also be rejuvenated to create a series of levelled terraces to transform its appearance and better suit a variety of different uses, including outdoor eating and drinking and markets. The project also aims to re-establish historic walking routes and support businesses to improve the quality of their offer in the area.
The plans aim to create an economically sustainable business model for owners of the listed buildings. Improving and investing in the fabric of the buildings and restoring their appearance will go some way to achieving this, but the goal is to reposition the Bigg Market as a popular destination of quality creating the right conditions to encourage people, business and events back to the area. By creating appealing, functional and useable spaces it is hoped that the area will be enlivened and a programme of quality events and activities can be developed which will work to keep the Bigg Market active.
More soft landscaping will be introduced, together with improved lighting designed not only to reduce anti-social behaviour but to add feature lighting on bannisters, walls, and to highlight architectural design detail on some of the significant heritage assets.
In the first phase of the project, HLF funding enabled NE1 to map out detailed plans for the redevelopment of the area and scope the project, including working closely with businesses to encourage their involvement and buy in to the plans as well as seeking the necessary planning approvals and permissions.
NE1 will now be able to implement these plans and work is expected to begin in Spring 2017.
Sean Bullick, Chief Executive at NE1 Ltd said:
“We’re absolutely delighted that the HLF has backed our plans to reinvigorate Newcastle’s Bigg Market recognizing both its significance as a major heritage asset and the contribution the area can make to the future economic prospects of the city. Thanks to the HLF award, and the City Council who are providing a £300k grant towards the public realm works, we will now be able to realize our shared vision for the area. We know that the £1.6 million HLF funding will be the catalyst for change and the key to unlocking further multi-million investment in the area. The Bigg Market transformation will be hugely significant for the whole city.
“We can’t wait to start working with businesses and with the City Council to deliver our plans.”
Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, said: “Restoring historic townscapes can play a central role in the regeneration of places we love. Thanks to National Lottery players this project will breathe new life into the Bigg Market, complementing surrounding landmarks and creating a sustainable and positive future.”
Cllr Ged Bell, Cabinet Member for Investment and Development at Newcastle City Council said: “Securing this funding will now allow the partners to progress with plans to restore and transform this historic quarter of the city, making best use of its assets and breathing new life into the Bigg Market.
“This is a prime example of how working together can help unlock further investment, and we’re delighted to have secured this funding, which is testament to the hard work of all the partners. The Bigg Market is a major part of our city centre ambitions to extend Newcastle’s retail, leisure and cultural offer, supporting the council’s Re-Newcastle programme of investment focused on renewing and reshaping our city.”
News of the HLF funding award for NE1 Ltd comes a week after the Business Improvement District (BID) company was named top BID in Europe, a major accolade that has never previously been awarded to any BID company outside Germany. The prize was in recognition for NE1’s work in Newcastle including its Alive after Five initiative which has had a transformational affect on Newcastle city centre adding an estimated £591 million to the local economy since its launch in October 2010.