Radical Dalziel & Pow design for four-level Newcastle BHS

How the new BHS will look. Image by Dalziel & Pow

How the new BHS will look. Image by Dalziel & Pow

Plans for Northumberland Street’s new BHS store have been submitted to Newcastle City Council, and propose a more radical than expected transformation of the former Next building.

Back in March, a notice posted at the old, closed-down BHS stated that the relocated store would be opening “in the autumn”, giving a fairly short 5-6 month window for the Next site to be redeveloped, once vacated in May. On this basis, I’d assumed that BHS would focus its attention on stripping out and rebuilding the store interior, and that the building’s frontage would see little change beyond a new shopfront and signage.

Next, Northumberland Street, Newcastle (now closed) (14 Mar 2011). Photograph by Graham Soult

Next, Northumberland Street, Newcastle (now closed) (14 Mar 2011)

In fact, BHS’s plans envisage an entirely new front elevation, replacing the existing dressed stone façade (above) with one comprising full-height glazing and powder-coated aluminium cladding. I’m told by Arcadia Group, however, that the store is still set to open in the “latter part of this year.”

The drawings also reveal that the BHS shopfloor will span four levels – one more than Next occupied – including menswear in the basement, womenswear on the ground floor, lingerie on the first floor, and the BHS Café on the second floor, while the third floor will be used for storage. Homeware and childrenswear are also expected to feature, though their locations within the store are not clear.

Just like the first new-generation BHS store that was unveiled in Uxbridge a year ago, the Newcastle shop is the work of top London-based design consultancy Dalziel & Pow. Last year, Retail Week described Dalziel & Pow as “the low-profile leader of the UK retail design industry”, responsible for “new formats that set the pace on the high street in the UK.” Coincidentally, the company was also behind the design of Next’s new store in Eldon Square.

The boldness of the proposed design will surely divide opinion, and even I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it will be a shame to lose the existing frontage, given that it’s really quite handsome, and – as I noted last year – is the last remnant of the building that used to occupy the full extent of the site currently occupied by the ex-BHS, ex-Next and Primark (below).

Old postcard of ex-BHS prior to rebuilding, Northumberland Street, Newcastle

Old postcard of ex-BHS prior to rebuilding, Northumberland Street, Newcastle

On the other hand, Northumberland Street’s lack of a coherent architectural style makes it the only location in Newcastle city centre where ‘glass box’ shops really work. Indeed, there is a long history of older properties in the street being given shiny new frontages, such as the present HMV store (a new skin on the old Callers building), and, only last year, the transformation of the Currys/PC World and Cotswold Outdoor property.

Cotswold, Northumberland Street, Newcastle (14 Mar 2011). Photograph by Graham Soult

Cotswold, Northumberland Street, Newcastle (14 Mar 2011)

Like those redevelopments before it, BHS’s investment will be a powerful – and very visible – indicator of confidence in the future of Newcastle’s premier shopping street.

Former Next, Northumberland Street (6 Jun 2011). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former Next, Northumberland Street (6 Jun 2011)

Whichever argument eventually wins me over, the building certainly loses some of its visual appeal now that the shop windows are empty and the Next signage removed (above).

As I’ve remarked several times before, shopfronts and fascias can hide a multitude of sins beneath, and the removal of Next’s signs has revealed the remains of what appears to be two separate fascias. A photograph on the Newcastle Libraries Flickr stream shows the property in 1975 – some years before Next’s arrival – housing a store called Penberthys, but it’s entirely possible that the space accommodated two separate shops at some point in the past.

Former BHS, Newcastle (6 Jun 2011). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former BHS, Newcastle (6 Jun 2011)

Meanwhile, work seems to be progressing at the ex-BHS site a couple of doors away (above), which is set to be occupied by an extended Primark store. No planning application has been submitted yet, however, so I assume that current works are focusing on stripping out the old BHS interior.

Former BHS, Northumberland Street, Newcastle (14 Mar 2011). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former BHS, Northumberland Street, Newcastle (14 Mar 2011)

In due course, it will be fascinating to see what Primark proposes for the site, given that the frontages of the ex-BHS and current Primark stores (above) will need, somehow, to be unified.

One thing’s for sure – as one of Northumberland Street’s ugliest buildings, there probably isn’t a property in the street that’s more in need of a refronting. Here’s hoping that Dalziel & Pow – or someone else – will be drafted in to work some magic with glass and aluminium.

4 Responses to “Radical Dalziel & Pow design for four-level Newcastle BHS”

  1. Soult's Retail View » Newcastle retail in good health as design of 114,000 sq ft Primark is revealed said:

    Jul 28, 11 at 16:28

    [...] Primark’s proposals coming hot on the heels of BHS’s plans for an equally radical reworking of the adjacent former Next store, above, 2011 is certainly shaping up to be a significant year for Newcastle city centre retail. [...]

  2. Soult's Retail View » Swindon’s BHS provides a taster of what Newcastle and Hartlepool can expect said:

    Sep 15, 11 at 15:11

    [...] the store’s similarity to the new BHS shops that will be opening soon in Hartlepool and Newcastle, I was keen to take a look for myself. Render of Newcastle's new BHS (prior to latest changes). [...]

  3. Soult's Retail View » Newcastle’s new BHS finally announces its presence said:

    Dec 28, 11 at 17:46

    [...] on the new BHS store in Newcastle has been underway for more than six months, though the lack of any mention of BHS on site meant that anyone passing by would have been none [...]

  4. Soult's Retail View » Newcastle’s new BHS to open on 19 April said:

    Mar 20, 12 at 15:59

    [...] on site has been going on since last summer, as BHS transforms the former Next premises into a four-storey flagship store. As reported [...]


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