Newcastle Great Park: Postcodes NE3 5RJ, NE13 9BD

Where is it? Bing map  || Geograph grid refs: NZ2370  NZ2270 NZ2271 NZ2371  || Ward profiles: NE3 5RJ (east) NE13 9BD (west) || StreetCheck: NE3 5RJ (east) NE13 9BD (west)

A1 road cutting through Newcastle Great Park
A1 road cutting through Newcastle Great Park, looking from east to west.

Newcastle Great Park (NGP) is located north west of Newcastle city centre and is bisected by the A1 road (western bypass) and close to Newcastle Airport.  It is a major area of 21st century housing currently under development with land allocated for a business park, community facilities, schools and ‘a town centre’.  The scheme is being delivered for Newcastle City Council by the Great Park Consortium, which includes a number of prominent house builders (e.g. Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey). In 2014 the city council estimated the housing capacity as around 8,000 and it forecast there will be 4,300 houses by 2030.

The Great Park is home to the headquarters of Sage Software.  It is intended to be a sustainable mixed-use development with high quality urban and landscape design including open space.  Although envisaged to be an economic growth pole for the city, this aspiration seems to have been stalled by the economic downturn in 2008 and the Great Park has yet to experience sustained growth in employment opportunities.

The Great Park is not directly connected by the Metro rail system, but does have some bus services which link with Kingston Park and Regent Centre (Gosforth) stations.  There is a free park and ride site linked with a rapid X40 bus service to the city centre, which stops at Regent Centre and Gosforth High Street. Residents are also encouraged to cycle.

Sage headquarters at North Park.
Sage headquarters at North Park.

Background

In the late 1980s it was argued that Newcastle needed to grow and develop to thrive as an urban centre and to do so the city needed provide good quality homes and well-paid jobs for well-qualified people working in hi-tech sectors (the knowledge economy).  It was suggested up to 900 hectares of Green Belt between the A1 and the A696 to the north-west of the city land to the north-west of the city could be suitable for development.

The Final Sustainability Appraisal Report issued by the city council, dated February 2006, describes the process by which the Great Park came about.  The Newcastle upon Tyne draft Unitary Development Plan (UDP) of 1991 proposed releasing Green Belt land in this area to accommodate the need for future development and labelled it the ‘Northern Development Area’ (NDA).  In 1993 the NDA was designated as an ‘Action Area’ with proposals for 139 hectares of economic development land and 172 hectares for 2,500 dwellings and associated local community facilities including open spaces.  A Public Local Inquiry was held between November 1994 and June 1995. The Inspector’s report (November 1996) backed the proposals for the NDA and the UDP was formally adopted in January 1998.

“The proposed Northern Development Area, between Gosforth and Hazlerigg contains the prime site within the Region for the attraction of inward investment” UDP 1998 (p6)

It should not be imagined that this series of events went unopposed.  Many campaign groups and residents fought the NDA proposal to remove Green Belt status from such a large tract of farm land and build on it.

Outline planning permission for the development, now to be known as Newcastle Great Park (NGP), was granted in 2000 following a decision by Labour environment minister John Prescott to ease restrictions on hi-tech development on greenfield sites.  Newcastle City Council adopted the Revised Master Plan, along with a supplementary planning document and a sustainability appraisal, for the Great Park in May 2006.

 “Creating a vibrant community is key to the future vision for NGP and environmental and economic improvements are seen as extremely important. This is not just in order to contribute to reducing the negative impacts of global climate change, but as a method to attract population, reducing energy use
and transportation running costs for all residents in the NGP area.” Final Sustainability Appraisal Report (p7)

Future planning for the Great Park area was incorporated into the One Core Strategy documents the council presented.  The inspector supported the proposal for a further 1,480 houses at the Great Park.

Housing

Brunton Grange
Brunton Grange – community centre in the distance on the left.

Residential development has been taking place in phased cells which have been given specific area names such as Brunton Grange, East Moor village, Elmwood Park and Greenside.  A council projection dating from 2014 estimates that there will be well over 4,000 houses by 2030 and that the capacity of the NGP is far higher than this.

villas Barmoor Drive
Barmoor Drive, Melbury

The early phases, known as Melbury, focused on Featherstone Grove, and Warkworth Woods, just north of Brunton Lane, have been complete for a few years. These distinctly upmarket properties are on the east side of the A1 and both extend the established area of 1950s housing Brunton Park, Gosforth.  There is a mix of detached, semi-detached and terraced family homes (175 at Warkworth Woods and 500 at Melbury).  The 2011 Census suggests most people living here are relatively affluent, employed in professional or managerial occupations and have degree-level qualifications.

In 2015 the average house price for postcode NE3 5JR (east side of the A1) was £249,500, ranging from £147,500 for a flat to £363,100 for a detached house; for NE13 9BD (west side of the A1) it was just under £200,000, ranging from £131,225 to £284,950.  By comparison, the average for NE3 2QX at Kingston Park is just under £100,000.

Featherstone Grove, Melbury.
Featherstone Grove, Melbury.

On the west side of the A1 most building has occurred in Greenside (cell G),  East Moor Village and Brunton Grange (both cell F).  These houses are closer to local facilities such as the community centre, nursery and first school.  Greenside is  just north of Kingston Park and when complete there will be 320 homes.  East Moor Village has about 80 houses and is next to the school.  Brunton Grange is offering some new homes through the Government’s ‘Newbuild Homebuy’ scheme.

“The first phase of affordable housing is now complete in the town centre. This includes an extra care facility with 40 two bedroom self contained flats. Also, two buildings containing 42 two bed flats with ground floor mixed use rental units.”  City council Great Park page (July 2015)

Future changes

The Great Park is projected to continue to develop and grow for some years to come.

build out rates
Great Park build out rates – Newcastle City Council June 2014
Roseden Way
Persimmon houses on Roseden Way, Brunton Grange.

A scheme to create a proper town centre for the Great Park, on Roseden Way close to the junction with Wagonway Drive, is now underway.  A consultation session was held on December 17th 2015 and the plans were revised to include additional open space.

“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

Staff at Gradon Architecture were involved in the master plan for the Great Park and the town centre affordable housing and retail units designed by them received planning permission in March 2016.  Work on this £5m development is expected to be completed in April 2017.

The Gosforth Great Park Academy (GGPA) project aims to meet demand for secondary school places.  The Secretary of State for Education has confirmed the proposal to build GGPA should proceed to the pre-opening stage.  This school will be part of the Gosforth Academy federation and will eventually occupy a site at the Great Park probably very close to the SAGE building.  The plan is to open in September 2018, accommodating pupils in existing Academy premises, and reach full capacity at 1200 students in 2024.

There are also issues arising that need to be resolved.  The Great Park was promoted as benefiting from having open spaces and being developed with some environmental sensitivity.

“The landscape that is now in place has totally transformed arable farmland into a diverse mosaic of woodland, meadowland and network of drainage systems with hills, vales and streams. This ecosystem delivers wide open spaces with cycleways and pathways linking all the development cells and the wider environment of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.” NGP environment page (July 2015)

Unfortunately  it has not always been clear  that these open spaces would not all be publicly accessible and the landowners appear to have failed to communicate clearly where rights of way exist.

Main links

Ward profile and StreetCheck added 20th May 2017.

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