Tyne and Wear TV

Sunrise Sunset
°C
Today
07/12/2021
°C
Tonight
07/12/2021
°C
Tomorrow
08/12/2021
°C
Saturday
09/12/2021
°C
Sunday
10/12/2021
°C
Monday
11/12/2021
°C

TWO PROJECTS: Levelling up bids in Newcastle approved

TWO PROJECTS: Levelling up bids in Newcastle approved

The Grainger Market, Newcastle, Image: NCJ Media

Multi-million pound bids to build a new leisure centre in Newcastle’s outer west and to renovate the beloved Grainger Market have been approved by the government, but the long-awaited restoration of the Tyne Bridge remains uncertain.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed in Wednesday’s Budget that two projects in Newcastle would be included in the first £1.7bn worth of investment from the Levelling Up Fund.

That means that a new state-of-the-art sports facility will be built in West Denton, with the shuttered West Denton Pool and the existing leisure centre next door to be demolished.

Newcastle City Council revealed the plans earlier this year, promising a carbon-neutral £22m complex boasting a new sports hall, swimming pool, gym, café, library, and community spaces.

leisure centre

How a new £22m leisure centre in West Denton could look, Image: Newcastle City Council

It came after months of outcry over the current pool being left closed by operator GLL since the start of the pandemic and complaints that initial council plans to replace it with a £2.3m modular facility represented a downgrade.

The local authority and Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell had urged the government to stump up £18m to make the scheme a reality, while the council also asked for another £20m to give some of the city centre’s most historic assets a facelift.

Ministers have now also approved that bid to upgrade both the Grainger Market and Old Eldon Square, as well as installing public wifi in the city centre.

The council said that works to the Grainger Market would turn it into a “retail destination to rival the best European markets”, while Old Eldon Square could become an “elegant civic space with fountains and cafes and bars adding a sense of vibrancy day and night”.

However, there was no word on Wednesday on whether the government would finally agree to pay for a much-needed revamp of the rusting Tyne Bridge.

The iconic crossing has not undergone major maintenance for two decades and is in desperate need of a paint job, while there have been warnings that city chiefs may have to restrict the amount of traffic using it if it cannot be fixed up.

An £18m request for the iconic landmark’s repairs was one of four bids to the Levelling Up Fund lodged by the city council, with the fourth being a project to clean up the Tyne and build a new river ‘restoration facility’ in Walker.

It is hoped that the Tyne Bridge can be brought back to its former glory in time for its centenary in 2028, though it is unclear at this stage whether its major works could still be funding through future Levelling Up announcements or whether a previous £40m bid lodged via Transport for the North in 2019 to pay for the vast refurbishment of both it and the Central Motorway could yet be signed off.

City council leader Nick Forbes said the city centre funding secured would allow for the preservation of “two of the city’s most iconic and treasured assets”.

He also pledged that the local authority would continue to push for money to restore the Tyne Bridge.

The Labour leader added: “It is disappointing that this bid to restore and repair one of the nation’s best loved landmarks has not been given the green light today, however we’re continuing to bid for £40m funding as part of a joint bid with Transport for the North to the Department of Transport.

“We will lobby Government for this funding so we can ensure this important structure can be restored to its former glory.

“Many will agree that the Tyne Bridge needs attention and, with the centenary year in 2028 approaching, the need to secure the necessary funding is becoming increasingly urgent.”

Ms McKinnell said she was “absolutely thrilled” by news of the leisure centre bid’s success.

She added: “As well as being potentially transformational for health outcomes, the centre can act as an anchor in the local community, attracting more residents to nearby services including the Outer West Library and playing an important part in rejuvenating the local area.”

Five North East projects totalling £100m were named among those approved in the first round of Levelling Up allocations.

The others are a Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy in Sunderland, reopening the Whorlton Suspension Bridge over the Tees, and regenerating Yarm and Eaglescliffe town centres.

 

Words: Daniel Holland, Local Democracy Reporter


Watch Live


Watch the channel on TV

7

Freeview

195

Sky

159

Virgin Media