Several Buildings in Grainger Town, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

The Grainger Town Project encouraged property owners to invest in their buildings and stop the decay and decline that the area had been suffering for many years. The outcome has encouraged economic development, repair of exceptional architecture, environmental improvements and actions to address crime and public safety issues.

Where: Newcastle upon Tyne

Years on register: 1998 - 2011

Area of outstanding 19th century architecture

The Grainger Town Project focused on an area of about 53 hectares in Newcastle city centre. The area extended from Grey’s Monument and the Grainger Market in the north to Central Station in the south. Much of this area was developed by Richard Grainger in the 1830’s and included buildings designed by John Dobson, the foremost architect of his day.

Fine classical buildings in decline

For years, Grainger Town declined physically and economically as the city’s retail centre shifted north to Eldon Square. By the 1990s the area had an atmosphere of neglect with fine, classical buildings underused and decaying, and a public realm in very poor condition. Historic England added seven of the 50 Grade I and II* listed buildings in the area to the Heritage at Risk Register.

A strategic partnership formed in the mid-1990s to address the issues. The partners: English Partnerships, Newcastle City Council and Historic England (then English Heritage), drew up a project plan with initial public investment of around £40 million.

Numbers 2-12 Grey Street, Grainger Town before repair and rescue
Numbers 2-12 Grey Street, Grainger Town before repair and rescue © Newcastle City Council

The Grainger Town Partnership

The Grainger Town Partnership focused its attention on the physical regeneration of the area and involved investment in both buildings and the public realm.

The implementation of the partnerships strategy, between 1997 and 2003, was very successful. As prominent, underused buildings were refurbished and converted to new uses, employment prospects improved, and economic development and environmental improvements followed.

All seven buildings on the Heritage at Risk Register have been removed. Large-scale redevelopment and smaller initiatives have provided a mixed scheme of shops and residential accommodation. This was grant funded by the project along with training schemes, cultural events and promotional activities.

How we made a difference

Our expertise and funding were an essential part of the Grainger Town Partnership. The project supported and promoted comprehensive regeneration by attracting investment into the area. This included the repair of many listed buildings, in an area where 29% of them are Grade I and II*.

Numbers 2-12 Grey Street after restoration.
Numbers 2-12 Grey Street after restoration. Now the Grey Street Hotel © Historic England DP175699

The historic environment plays a vital role in the life of our towns and cities. Conservation is far more than simply a matter of what buildings look like: it concerns the quality of our lives in the places where we work and play. The Grainger Town Project injected new life into the heart of Newcastle when it was desperately needed and demonstrated what a focused, committed partnership can deliver in a city centre with a celebrated architectural heritage.

Catherine Dewar, Planning Director North East for Historic England

Ensuring continued investment

At the end of the project, the partnership took steps to ensure that the regeneration would be sustained into the future. They developed a forward strategy that included an exit strategy and succession planning to safeguard the project’s investment.

The strategy was effective and formed the basis of continued investment in the area today, ensuring the area does not, once again, fall into decline. Organisations have been established to support the continuing management and regeneration of the city centre. This includes the development of public spaces and promotion of public events.

The regeneration of Grainger Town created the conditions that have lead to wider investment and further regeneration projects across Newcastle. The Project created the basis of the evident and continued long-term private investment into Grainger Town and the wider area. However, the last decade of austerity and severe public sector cuts has meant that continued, high levels of public investment have not been possible.

Grainger Street and Nelson Street, Grainger Town Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Grainger Street and Nelson Street, Grainger Town Newcastle-upon-Tyne © Historic England DP175686

20 years of the Heritage at Risk Register

This year we are celebrating 20 years of the Heritage at Risk Register, Historic England’s tool for shining a light on the listed buildings and places in England that need most help. Looking back over the last 20 years, huge progress has been made in saving our heritage and giving it new uses.

See more of our top 20 heritage rescues

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