Hotspot: Newcastle, Tyne & Wear

The latest northern city makeover was a tough one to pull off, but it'll blow away your preconceptions of the place.
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The Independent Online

It couldn't have happened to a nicer, certainly to a more architecturally and historically deserving city. Newcastle is getting the kind of makeover that has already transformed city centres in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff and Leeds. With its river and bridges and venerable city centre, Newcastle will do justice to a good sprucing up.

It couldn't have happened to a nicer, certainly to a more architecturally and historically deserving city. Newcastle is getting the kind of makeover that has already transformed city centres in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff and Leeds. With its river and bridges and venerable city centre, Newcastle will do justice to a good sprucing up.

Newcastle City Council says in the decade to 1991, the city centre residential population more than doubled, to 2,300 and there has been further growth as new projects have been completed on the quayside and in Grainger Town, where 200 flats have been developed and a further 400 are proposed by 2003.

Development at Gateshead Quays includes aleisure and residential complex by Taylor Woodrow and a Hilton Hotel. "Persimmon Homes are completing Tyne Views near the quays and the town centre, which consists of 280 homes. St James Urban Village, in an area south of the new Baltic Business Park, can accommodate 800 homes. Developers are interested but not confirmed yet," says Robert Schopen, public relations officer for Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council. Work is underway in Gateside on three lottery-funded projects: the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, a music complex comprising two halls and a school, and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which will "operate like the giant lid of an eye slowly opening, forming an arch under which ships can pass", according to Mr Schopen.

Gordon Hollis of Your Move estate agents says: "Riverside development on the quayside is just starting - a bit like Docklands in London, a centre of social activity and an increasing number of businesses relocating from the city centre. City centre residential is an immature market, and with supply limited, a one-bed flat can cost £120,000."

Mr Hollis moved to Newcastle from Edinburgh five years ago: "I had preconceptions about a lot of crime here, and some locations are best avoided, but this is true for any UK city. Newcastle was voted among the best party cities in the world. There has been massive growth over the last 10 years, and the balance of employment is more stable."

"Newcastle is a small city with two popular suburbs, Jesmond and Gosforth," explains Justin Anim of Keith Pattinson estate agents. "We also have executive estates such as Barras Hall for people like footballers who can afford £200,000 to £600,000. A lot of businesses are coming to the Northeast, so we are getting more executive buyers."

"As prices have soared in Gosforth and Jesmond, investors have now spun out to Heaton," says Nick Lansberry of Sanderson Young. "A three-bed terraced house just sold for £79,950. Two years ago it sold for £59,950. High prices also mean buyers are moving to cheaper places like Whitley Bay on the coast, and Kingston Park is also popular because it is on the metro."

The Low Down

Transport

Newcastle Airport is expanding Terminal 1 to handle 4.8 million passengers a year. Public transport interchange and a freight village being planned. Car ferry services between Tyneside, Scandinavia and Germany. The North Shields International Ferry Terminal at Royal Quays is seven miles east of Newcastle via the A1058 and A19. Newcastle is 90 miles from Leeds and 100 from Edinburgh, London is 274 miles, Birmingham 207 and Manchester 132.

Prices and properties

You can spend £400,000 and more in Jesmond and other exclusive areas, but well-placed three-bed houses are around £100,000. Many local and national builders - Leech, McAlpine, Miller, Bowey, McLean and others - are building flats and houses in Newcastle and through Northumbria.

New from old properties

Yuill is converting a former orphanage and maternity hospital into 10 quality flats, some with balconies and mezzanines, at Princess Mary Court in Jesmond, with prices from £258,000 to £465,000. Newhomes sold all 11 flats in Akenside House, Quayside and is developing two more blocks: 23 loft apartments in Brewery Bond, North Shields and 17 in Trafalgar House in the city centre. The Red Box near the Central Station is a refurbished neoclassical building - the former central post office - with spiral staircases, mezzanine levels, penthouses and roof gardens.

Tyneside flats

Peculiar to this area, says Nick Lansberry, are Tyneside flats: a two-bed flat downstairs, and a three-bed flat upstairs that, with a loft conversion, can increase to five bedrooms. Heaton is still affordable, and Tyneside Flats are popular with young professionals and investors letting to students.

Retiring types

Retirement specialist McCarthy & Stone has two developments in Low Fell, Gateshead: Dryden Court, from £59,450, and Bowes-Lyon Court, from £59,950 for one-bed and £74,950 for two.

Ich bin ein Geordie

Newcastle City Council says the term "Geordie" originally applied only to miners, colliers, or Newcastle inhabitants. Later it applied to Tynesiders, and many outside the area use the name to refer to anyone from the north-east.

Developers and estate agents

Keith Pattinson0191 232 4392; McCarthy & Stone, 0191-477 6378; Newhomes 01642 762944; Sanderson Young estate agents,0191-213 0033; Solicitors Property Shop, 0191-245 1111; Your Move 0191-284 5761; Yuill 0191- 281 6314.

Twins, triplets, quadruplets

Newcastle is linked with Atlanta, Georgia; Haifa, Israel; Bergen, Norway; Nancy, France; Gelsenkirchen, Germany; Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia; Groningen, Netherlands; Taiyan, China. The 1991 population was 190,000.

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