Kingston Park: Retail change at the edge

Postcode NE3 2RD

Where is it? Bing map||Geograph grid ref NZ2168

Neighbourhood summary

A change of scale in the 1990s

Originally there was a single shopping centre at Kingston Park aimed at local residents, with a small supermarket, a butchers, opticians, pharmacy and post office, plus a pub.  Later Tesco built a larger supermarket over the road from the shopping centre, which caused the small Presto store to close.  A new hypermarket Tesco Extra was constructed on land next to the 1980s brick-barn style supermarket which Tesco subsequently demolished in 2002 (now part of the car park) .  The small shopping centre, with its focus on local needs, has now been completely redeveloped as an out-of-town retail centre and has a major Marks & Spencer store.

It is not difficult to see why.  The location on the A1 makes Kingston Park easy for people living in the city and beyond to get to it.  It is positioned close to the junction of the A696 road leading to Newcastle city from the airport and the Scottish border (Jedburgh).  The A1 links Kingston Park to the other major junctions such as the A69 to Hexham and Carlisle.  Kingston Park has its own Metro station on the line from the Airport to Sunderland via Newcastle’s Central Station.

There are few community facilities beyond the local primary school, a church, a community hall and grassed play areas (e.g. no sports centre or library).  There is a care home, a dental practice and a doctor’s surgery.  Also in the area are a private Springs health club and the Newcastle Falcons Rugby club (which has extended its stadium).

Pressures for change

Redevelopment in the Kingston Park area has come about because of the shift of retailing to the edge of cities.  Although housing areas have not been redeveloped, the balance between retail and the other functions has shifted. This has brought a substantial increase in road traffic to the area. The rugby club can also bring in large volumes of traffic on match days. As the Great Park has developed, these problems have been exacerbated. (The Great Park planning permission originally excluded retail development within its boundaries.)

Belvedere Retail Park (Feb 2014)

Belvedere Retail Park (Feb 2014)

Part of Kingston Park is an industrial estate, although many of the units are given over to quasi-retail functions (kitchens, bathrooms, soft furnishings). The area is dominated by a giant Tesco Extra which replaced a more conventional superstore in 2001. There are also other warehouse stores on the Belvedere Retail Park (e.g.  Matalan ,TK Maxx and the now defunct Comet). An MFI store was subdivided at Belvedere in the mid-90s to create an electrical store, Mothercare World and a bed and soft furnishings shop. A drive-in McDonalds was also added around 2000. There is also a Homebase DIY store at Kingston Park.

Kingston Court shopping centre

Kingston Court shopping centre – the pub stood on this corner (Feb 2014)

Kingston Court shopping centre – the pub stood on this corner (Feb 2014)

The more locally-focused shopping centre was redeveloped in two phases.  The first phase involved the removal of the pub (King’s Court rebranded latterly as the Brunton Arms), Iceland and smaller shops including a hairdressers.  This remodelled Kingston Park shopping centre included Brantano shoes, Boots and Next.  More recently (2012) further development at the rebranded ‘Kingston Court’ has removed all of the original local shops and added a Marks and Spencers store.

Christine Barker, store manager said: “It’s great to be opening a brand new bigger and better store providing our customers with the very best M&S products across all departments.  We will be able to continue to offer our customers all their favourite food and drink items and, for the very first time, a great selection of M&S fashion.” Evening Chronicle 12 March 2012

Brunton Arms pub prior to demolition.

Brunton Arms pub prior to demolition.

Kingston retail park

A former petrol station and Volvo dealership has been redeveloped since 2003 as another retail area. This initially included a PC World and a Marks & Spencer Simply Food outlet (despite initial assurances the development would be ‘non food’) and now includes Halfords and Currys.

Former petrol station at Kingston Park.

Former petrol station at Kingston Park (c. 2000).

Retail sheds on the site of the former BP garage and Volvo dealership (Feb 2014)

Retail sheds on the site of the former BP garage and Volvo dealership (Feb 2014)

What next?

In June 2005 Newcastle City Council published a ‘City Wide Retail and Leisure Study’.  This document describes Kingston Park as one of half a dozen district centres in Newcastle’s  retail hierarchy.  District centres provide the widest range and choice of goods and services beyond the city centre and act as main shopping destinations for convenience goods and large format supermarket shopping.  This report estimated the annual retail turnover at Kingston Park as £76.8m. 

Kingston Park’s new neighbour is the Great Park development which is blamed by local residents for the sudden expansion of retailing at Kingston Park and the associated increase in traffic. Brunton Road marks the northern edge of Kingston Park and the southern edge of the Great Park. At the time it was proposed, the council described the ‘park’ as a strategic investment site. Many protested at this greenfield development on green belt land.  The 2005 report stated that the retail focus at the Great Park should be restricted to local needs with Kingston Park as the main district centre.  Tesco, by far the largest store at Kingston Park, is planning a major refurbishment,  including a restaurant and community space, presumably with the aim of making it more attractive shopping destination than competitors.

However, there are plans to create a proper town centre for the Great Park:

“The multiple use town centre is centered around a new supermarket with North to South pedestrian boulevard, market square and links to the surrounding housing and strategic open space. In the town centre it is planned that high street style shops, cafes and restaurants will provide for the needs of the new community.” http://www.newcastle.gov.uk/people-and-communities/where-you-live/newcastle-great-park

In the One Core Strategy it is recognised that the local road network is operating near capacity and any further development is likely to increase congestion.  The additional housing planned for the rural-urban fringe can only increase the pressure.

“The inspector supported homes on greenfield sites at Callerton (3,000 homes), Newbiggin Hall (300), Kingston Park and Kenton Bank Foot (800), Newcastle Great Park (1,480), Dinnington (250), Throckley (550), Hazlerigg and Wide Open (500), all in Newcastle.” Chronicle November 18th, 2014

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