Work to transform an area of Newcastle city centre into a ‘pocket park’ will resume early next month.
The project will see the area around Stephenson’s Monument, turned into a more attractive space, with new paving, seating and planting being used to create a more relaxing environment in the heart of the city.
The new public square will be created around the Stephenson’s Monument, at the bottom of Westgate Road, near Central Station, as part of an £800,000 project led by Newcastle City Council and NE1.
The plans for the area were developed by local landscape design company Southern Green and the project has also received significant support from Northumbrian Water.
Cllr Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: “This exciting project will bring major improvements to an important city centre location.
“It’s one of the first areas of the city people see when they arrive in Newcastle by train and the changes we are making will ensure visitors get a great first impression.
“The area will be a relaxing and pleasant space in the heart of the city – providing a much more attractive and fitting setting for the monument to North East railway pioneer George Stephenson.”
Phase one of the work, which involved replacing the paving outside of the Union Rooms, Vita Student and Launderette buildings, was completed before Christmas.
The second phase of the work – which will involve paving the rest of the space and putting in the new seating and raised planted beds – will get underway from Tuesday 3 April.
A feature of the scheme will be a band of paving that will represent the approximate alignment of the historic Roman frontier in this part of the city.
This phase of the project will also include the installation of measures designed to reduce the risk of localised flooding by managing rain water run-off.
Adrian Waddell, chief executive at NE1 Ltd, said: “The Stephenson pocket park may be small but it is hugely significant to the city. It is one of the last pieces in the redevelopment jigsaw of the Central Station, a project that has seen millions of pounds invested in the Grade 1 listed building and the surrounding area by the Regional Growth Fund, the council, NE1 and other private sector investors.
“NE1 and Newcastle City Council had a vision for the station and the surrounding area. The idea was to open it up, re-establishing the impressive vista and creating a real sense of city arrival for the 7.5 million who pass through the station every year.
“The partners were confident that in redeveloping the area we would unlock new business development in and around the station and our belief has been borne out with major regeneration programmes like the Stephenson Quarter, together with the arrival of a host of new businesses into the area.
“It is great to see our plans come to fruition and the final icing on the cake is the installation of the pocket park around the Stephenson Monument. We are delighted to be working with Newcastle City Council to finalise the work which will create an attractive space that can be used by businesses and enjoyed by the wider public.”
Louise Hunter, corporate communications director at Northumbrian Water, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with NE1 Ltd and Newcastle City Council to create the Stephenson’s Monument pocket park. It will be a valuable new green space in the heart of the city and will enhance and revitalise the area, creating an attractive and welcoming space.
“The area is one of the first sights to greet visitors when they step off the train and will give visitors to the city a great first impression. We are proud to have played our part in its creation.”
The project is due to be completed later this year and during the works there will be some temporary changes to the road layout, including the pedestrian crossing arrangements.
People are advised to take extra care when travelling in the area and follow the signage which will be in place.
The Union Rooms, Vita Student and Launderette will remain open throughout the project but people may have to walk a different route to the one they would normally take while the improvements take place.
Louise Fawcett, general manager at the Launderette bar and restaurant said: “With our own fantastic outside area scheduled to open at the end of May, we are very excited to have the addition of the new Stephenson’s Monument public square for everyone in the city to enjoy, alongside Newcastle’s already fantastic views.”
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