Developer appointed to get key Newcastle scheme back on track

A new joint venture has been signed to develop a key plot of land in Newcastle city centre where work stopped two years ago.

The development of the Stephenson Quarter, behind the city’s Central Station, ground to a halt in June 2018 when Newcastle City Council ended its agreement with the Clouston Group over payments that weren’t met.

Now a joint venture has been formed with developers PfPigloo to develop the remaining 4.3 acres of the site, with the hope of creation 2,000 jobs.

The new developer is a partnership between finance group PfP Capital and igloo Regeneration, which is known in the city for its work in the Ouseburn Valley.

Stephenson Quarter is one of key three development sites around Newcastle city centre which it is hoped will create 10,000 jobs over the next decade.

The first phase of the scheme saw the creation of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the Rocket office block, the Boiler Shop venue, a multi-storey car park and a University Technology College, creating 1,000 jobs.

The second and final phase will see the remainder of the site’s historic buildings brought back into use, and will include homes, offices, leisure facilities and public spaces.

An estimated £104m of investment will transform six plots, all council owned land, which will be developed by the new partnership over a seven-year period.

CGI of Stephenson Quarter development in Newcastle city centre
CGI of Stephenson Quarter development in Newcastle city centre
(Image: Newcastle City Council)

Ged Bell, the council’s cabinet member for employment and culture, said: “We must do everything to kickstart economic activity in the wake of Covid-19 if the city is to bounce back, so the announcement of PfPigloo as our development partner is incredibly important.

“With its historic buildings, the Stephenson Quarter is a gem of a development site. We’ve had great success with the previous developer the Clouston Group bringing forward the hotel, technical college and offices, but this new phase will accentuate the heritage of many of its listed buildings which makes the site unique.

“The jobs that will be created – many of them in the construction sector – will be extremely valuable to our economic recovery and give residents new opportunities.”

John Tatham, director of PfPigloo, said: “We are excited to be involved in taking forward development of Stephenson Quarter as it gives us an opportunity to build on our success in the Ouseburn Valley and continue the transformation of another key part of Newcastle city centre.”

Under the new partnership, the council will contribute the land and the developers will contribute an equal share of capital investment to bring plots forward. The council has the option to invest capital in plots should it wish to do so.

The Stephenson Quarter – so called because it was the site of the Robert Stephenson & Co. Locomotive Works, a key spark for the industrial revolution – dates back to 2004, when the Clouston Group bought the land from a church charity.

The site was taken over by the council when Clouston needed assistance during the financial crash, with a deal put in place for the firm to buy back parts of the site in various stages when key developments were completed and payments were made to the council.

The council pulled the plug on the deal in June 2018, however, when payments were not made.