Stunning new entrance planned for Newcastle’s Eldon Square
Plans to be officially unveiled later this week reveal that the Northumberland Street entrance to Newcastle’s Eldon Square shopping centre is set to undergo a massive makeover.
The planning application for the “partial demolition, remodelling and extension of [the] shopping centre at its Northumberland Street entrance” was lodged a couple of weeks ago, and the sketch perspectives included with that application have already been the subject of discussion at the SkyscraperCity Forums. However, I’ve been able to obtain a high-quality render that gives a much clearer idea of what the plans – by Leslie Jones Architecture – will mean for the look and feel of Newcastle’s prime shopping street.
As well as creating a more modern face to the street – echoing the new BHS and Primark stores opposite – the proposals envisage removing the first-floor retail accommodation above the currently dark entrance, and raising the overall height of the building to create a more welcoming double-height space.
The street-facing shop units – vacated in the last few months by La Senza and G-Star Raw respectively – will also be extended out to the natural Northumberland Street frontage line, getting rid of the awkward canopies and set-back shopfronts that I’ve criticised before. Once the revamp is complete, the newly prominent and slightly enlarged units at 1 and 2-4 Eldon Way should be much more attractive to prospective tenants.
Of the other nearby units, only the Newcastle United shop – which occupies the soon-to-disappear first-floor space – appears to be affected, and is in the midst of closing down. My interpretation from the plan drawings is that the recent closure of Blue Inc – ahead of its relocation to the smaller ex-Rebel Rebel premises in High Friars – is not directly related to the entrance proposals, and it appears that the adjacent Jane Norman and That’s Entertainment stores will also be unaffected by the change. Though not currently an especially appealing thoroughfare, the plans also make clear that the sloping Prudhoe Chare, which affords access to the lower-ground-level Northumberland Arms pub, will remain in place.
Overall, then, it seems that the modernising of Northumberland Street’s most tired retail frontages shows no sign of abating, with the Eldon Square revamp coming hot on the heels of the BHS, Primark and Currys PC World makeovers, and ahead of similar plans to refront the ex-Littlewoods block (above) that now houses H&M, Clas Ohlson and WHSmith.
Though Northumberland Street may no longer command the sky-high rents that it did at its peak, it can only be a good thing that its retailers and landlords remain committed to investing there – not just pleasing the aesthetes among us, but making sure that the street can attract and retain the best possible stores too.