The £3.2 million Bigg Market transformation, made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund and with match funding by NE1 Ltd and Newcastle City Council, is about to enter an exciting new phase with the appointment of a specialist building contractor to conduct the work, and a new Project Manager at the helm at NE1 Ltd.
NE1 has announced the appointment of HPR Ltd as the specialist contractor appointed to carry out the public realm and building restoration work on the site and Alex Slack has been recruited to the role of Project Manager at NE1 Ltd to take the Bigg Market rejuvenation project to completion.
The work is scheduled to start in May.
As part of the project, NE1 is encouraging building owners in the Bigg Market to apply for significant grants which are available to improve their premises, the overall aim being to drive the economic fortunes of the Bigg Market.
The Bigg Market has 31 listed buildings including the famous Gents toilets which have recently been the subject of planning interest with an application to transform the site into a wine bar.
The listed buildings and their significance and importance to the history and heritage of Newcastle enabled NE1 to successfully apply for £1.6 million HLF funding to restore and transform the historic Bigg Market area and ensure that it is making its rightful contribution to the city’s economic fortunes now and into the future.
NE1 is confident that this initial investment will continue to be the catalyst for additional private sector investment in the surrounding area, which could total upwards of £41 million.
Working with Newcastle City Council and the area’s property owners, NE1 will now start implementing the 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 last year.
Essential conservation work can now 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 to allow for a variety of different uses, including outdoor eating and drinking and markets. The project will also aim to re-establish historic walking routes and support businesses to improve the quality of their offer in the area.
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.
The Bigg Market is at the historic heart of the city with 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.
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.
Alex Slack, newly appointed Bigg Market Project Manager at NE1 Ltd said:
“I have joined NE1 at perhaps the most exciting phase of the Bigg Market rejuvenation project when the work begins and we see the plans coming to fruition. I am confident that HPR Ltd will be an excellent addition to the project team and we are encouraging business and building owners to work with us to deliver these plans to reinvigorate the Bigg Market, which is an untapped jewel in Newcastle’s crown.
“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, we will now be able to realize our shared vision for the area.”
John Gibson, Managing Director of HPR Ltd said:
“We are delighted to be involved in such a huge project in such an iconic area of Newcastle. We are looking forward to working with NE1 and Newcastle City Council to transform the Bigg Market, building on its history and heritage and giving it a new, revived focus for the 21st century.”
Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth Cllr Ged Bell, said: “The Bigg Market was the commercial heart of Newcastle for centuries where people would come to buy and sell their wares. But times change and in recent years the area has fallen into disrepair and looks neglected.
“It’s one of the last great parts of the city centre that has not enjoyed the investment that others have, but all of that is about to change. This is an exciting project with NE1 and local businesses, and I am confident that when it is complete the Bigg Market will be a much more attractive and pleasant environment.”
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