Ambitious Tyne Bridge mall plans to be unveiled
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The retail hearts of Newcastle and Gateshead are set to be connected by a new £200m shopping mall, running the length of the iconic Tyne Bridge.
The scheme will involve building a new modern steel and glass structure underneath the existing road deck, providing a covered mall route between the Newcastle and Gateshead sides, and affording panoramic views over the existing developments at Newcastle Quayside and Gateshead Quays.
The project is also set to bring the historic Tyne Bridge towers into use for the first time since they were built, as intended five-storey warehouses, in the 1920s. Talks are underway to attract upmarket department store Harvey Nichols to the tower on the Newcastle side, while the Gateshead tower looks set to house a 30,000 sq ft branch of B&M Bargains, making it the expanding discount chain’s largest store to date.
The proposed development – to be known as The Bridges – seeks to address the age-old issue of how to link the twin centres of Newcastle-Gateshead.
By filling in the missing link between the centres, the scheme will create a 1.5-mile-long retail and leisure thoroughfare stretching from Newcastle’s Northumberland Street to Gateshead High Street, and connecting the planned retail-led regeneration of Aldersgate’s East Pilgrim Street site in Newcastle with Spenhill’s Trinity Square redevelopment in Gateshead.
Speaking exclusively to Soult’s Retail View, one local property consultant described the scheme as “visionary”, claiming that the new bus-lined boulevard will become “Newcastle-Gateshead’s answer to Barcelona’s Las Ramblas.”
The topography of the Tyne Gorge means that there will be level access to the new mall on both banks of the river, as well as lifts and escalators connecting it to the existing pedestrian routes over the Tyne Bridge. Inside the mall, the developers are promising to sign up designer fashion stores, upmarket restaurants, and at least two branches of Greggs.
Sara Pilfloody from developers RIALP told Soult’s Retail View:
“A decade ago, the successful Grainger Town Project gave Newcastle the Bond Street of the North, anchored by TJ Hughes, Subway and Xmas Box.
“Now, The Bridges is set to be Newcastle-Gateshead’s answer to St Pancras International, transforming a neglected part of the city, opening new pedestrian routes, and bringing in high-end designer names. We are also planning the longest champagne bar in Europe, stretching the full 389m of the Tyne Bridge.”
However, Pilfloody rejected suggestions that the new mall’s name is too similar to the existing Bridges Shopping Centre in Sunderland:
“I don’t think it will cause any confusion at all. After all, our mall is actually going to be a bridge, which of course Sunderland’s shopping centre isn’t. Also, we commissioned market research which revealed that Newcastle residents are generally unlikely to shop in Sunderland, especially – surprisingly – on Saturday afternoons.”
The developers hope to submit planning applications to Newcastle and Gateshead Councils later this year, with work set to begin in late 2012. Given the challenges of the elevated site, construction work is expected to take up to eight years, ensuring that the scheme will be completed in advance of Gateshead’s new town centre Tesco.
The plans for the exciting scheme will go on show to the public today (1 April), with an open-air exhibition on the Newcastle Quayside. The exhibition will be located beneath the deck of the Tyne Bridge, next to the kittiwake nest site.
Visitors are advised to wear wide-brimmed and waterproof headgear, and to check their calendar.