Heaton (HMOs & Tyneside flats): Postcode NE6 5LW

Where is it? Bing map|| Geograph grid ref NZ2766 

Neighbourhood summary

South Heaton is an area dominated by private renting and terraces.  It has proved very popular with students and couples  under 30 as it is a more affordable place to live than Jesmond and the city centre.  The main commercial streets are Chillingham Road and Heaton Road with a range of shops, food and drink outlets.

South Heaton ward is predominately flats and terraces with an above average number of 16 to 24 year olds, but North Heaton ward also has significant numbers of interwar and post World War 2 semi-detached homes and more families with children, for example at High Heaton where the housing was originally connected to Heaton high pit.

  • Compare different parts of Heaton:

  1. South Heaton, Third Avenue NE6 5YJ: Bing map; Neighbourhood summary; 1944 OS map;
  2. High Heaton NE7 7ET: Bing map; Neighbourhood summary; 1947 OS map;
  3. Dovedale Gardens NE7 7QP: Bing map; Neighbourhood summary; 1947 OS map.

Historically Heaton was a semi-rural mining area and became urbanised with the coming of the railways.  The park was gifted by the industrialist William Armstrong who owned land in the area.  Heaton was until recently the home of the Parsons engineering works which made turbines.  Much of the housing that still makes up South Heaton was built at the height of Newcastle’s economic power between 1880 and 1910.  The total number of houses in Heaton parish grew from around 200 in 1880 to 2,500 in 1900. Vision of Britain Heaton The 1921 OS map shows South Heaton is fairly built-up, but that the areas around Heaton High Pit and High Heaton were yet to be built on.

Many areas with a grid-iron street pattern and traditional rows of brick homes have been cleared and redeveloped, such as at Cruddas Park in Elswick and at Byker.  However in Heaton the street pattern and the nineteenth-century built environment remain with terraces including Tyneside flats as well as more upmarket conventional terraced houses.  In contrast, at High Heaton crescents were laid out adjoining Newton Road in a pattern according with general town planning principles in the 1920s (a contrast evident in the two aerial views below).

High Heaton 1927

New housing at Heaton High pit, Heaton, 1927.

Heaton 1937

Heaton and the city centre, 1937.

Students and HMOs

The influx of students in parts of Newcastle, due to landlords seeking to maximise income by marketing these lets as individual rooms with shared kitchen and bathroom  in a shared flat, has caused tensions in parts of Heaton and Jesmond.  As a result HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) regulations were introduced by the city council in 2011 in an ‘article 4 direction’.

HMO certificates have operated successfully in the whole of Scotland since 2000 (Civic Government Act Scotland 1982 amended in 2000).  However, prior to 2000 planning permission was required to turn a flat into a house of multiple occupation.  An HMO certificate generally offers the prospective tenant an assurance that the property being rented meets certain requirements in terms of ventilation, heating and fire safety and limits the number of occupants in relation to the space available.  In Scotland the landlord must be ‘a fit and proper person’ and manage the property properly; there are annual inspections to check the property (2006 Act).  Basically the legislation exists to protect tenants and make sure the accommodation is of a good standard.  HMO legislation was introduced as a statutory instrument throughout Scotland following a horrific fatal fire in a student flat in Glasgow in 1999 where the landlord had not met change of use planning permission rules.

In England the law is less stringent and a landlord must have registered a home as an HMO with the council only if the property is at least three storeys high and five or more unrelated people live in it (2004 Act).  In addition to this, the local authority can choose to vary the powers according to perceived need and designate areas. Effectively the city council can choose to limit the number  in an area.  The areas in Newcastle this applies to include parts of Heaton, High West Jesmond, Jesmond, North Jesmond, South Gosforth, Sandyford and Spital Tongues.  As the rules apply only to certain areas and types of let, landlords in England tend to view HMOs as an unreasonable additional cost and have contested the requirements.

Tyneside flats

The Tyneside flat was the dominant housing form constructed at the time when the industrial centres on Tyneside were growing most rapidly.  They can still be found in South Heaton but once dominated the streetscape on both sides of the Tyne.  They were in fact an improvement on earlier forms of urban dwellings which included back-to-back houses.  The street pattern was a grid-iron one which made use of every bit of space for development, but paid little attention to the contours of the land on which they were built. Most of these flats date from the latter quarter of the nineteenth century until the onset of the First World War in 1914.  The Tyneside flats were built by speculators looking to invest, rather than factory owners, and rented out privately by their proprietors.

It is not clear where in the West End Robert Hope took the image below, but it is thought to date from the early 1970s when a lot of demolition took place.  You can just make out the pairs of front doors on the houses.  Built as terraces, one of each pair of doors led to an upstairs flat while the other led into the ground-floor flat.  Most had two or three main rooms and a scullery.  The upper flats typically had an enclosed rear staircase leading to the yard.  At the rear there would have been a shared or split yard with dry or water closets, a coal house and perhaps a wash house.  Each yard had a door leading into a back lane.

Standing in ruins, Newcastle upon Tyne

Standing in ruins, Newcastle upon Tyne. Photo: Robert Hope Collection, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (Creative Commons).

Many Tyneside flats were built to be let for the lowest possible market rents and had little in the way of decorative features or small front gardens.  The example below from Heaton is perhaps typical of a more basic style that would have predominated in much of the city of Newcastle and in surrounding urban areas north and south of the River Tyne.

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