Kingston Park estate: Postcode NE3 2RD

Where is it?  Bing map||Geograph grid ref NZ2168 || Ward profile NE3 2RD || StreetCheck

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 (the King’s Court – latterly known as the Brunton Arms).  Later Tesco built a larger supermarket over the road from the shopping centre, which caused the small Presto store to close.  In the late 1990s 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 featuring Next, Boots and Marks & Spencer (Kingston Court retail park).

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 brought in large volumes of traffic on match days. As the Great Park developed, these problems were exacerbated. (The Great Park planning permission originally excluded retail development within its boundaries.)  Kingston Park developed into a mosaic of retailing areas, each with a slightly different history, but whose functions have increasingly sought to attract custom from a larger retail catchment.

Tesco Extra

The Kingston Park area is dominated by a giant Tesco Extra hypermarket which opened
in November 1999 and replaced a more conventional superstore.  The opticians and pharmacy are now within the Tesco store.  This brought in shoppers from further afield seeking to do a large shop including non-grocery items including clothing and electrical goods. It has been reported to be ‘the highest turnover Tesco store in the UK’ [brochure Nov 2015].

Airport estate

Part of Kingston Park is the Airport Industrial Estate, where many of the units are given over to quasi-retail functions (kitchens, bathrooms, soft furnishings).  This estate has over 90 industrial units ranging from 49 sq m  to 1,698 m. The units are steel framed with steel pitched roofs and suitable for offices, light industrial,  wholesale or warehouse uses.  Occupiers include carpet firms, printers, bathroom and kitchen suppliers, joinery and windows, ceramic tiles and a meat company (Spring 2017).

Belvedere retail park

Belvedere Retail Park (Feb 2014)
Belvedere Retail Park (Feb 2014)

The Belvedere Retail Park featured warehouse stores in the early 1990s (e.g. Comet electrical store and MFI furniture).  By 2016 these had been replaced by fashion retailers including Matalan,  TK Maxx and Sports Direct [brochure Nov 2016]. The large MFI store was subdivided at Belvedere in the mid-1990s to create smaller units: an electrical store, Mothercare World and a bed and soft furnishings shop. A drive-in McDonalds was added around 2000.  In 2016 new smaller outlets were created for Costa Coffee and mobile phone company EE [Evening Chronicle 4 Aug 2016 ].

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. A private gym has remained throughout.

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 later included Halfords and Currys.  This is owned and managed by the owners of the Belvedere retail park [brochure Nov 2015].

Former petrol station at Kingston Park.
Former petrol station at Kingston Park with Volvo dealership and Homebase DIY store in the distance (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 then annual retail turnover at Kingston Park as £76.8m. 

Kingston Park’s new neighbour is the Great Park development which has been blamed by local residents for the sudden expansion of retailing at Kingston Park since 2000 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, underwent 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

Last updated April 2017. Ward profile and StreetCheck added 20th May 2017.

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