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Iconic city mural saved from student flats

Written by News

The century old Robert Sinclair Tobacco sign had been under threat of being hidden behind a new housing block for students.

The developer, Versant Developments, had been wanting to continue his developments as their 70 apartment design would be a “distinctive landmark building” on the site of the former pub. The first scheme by the developers had been rejected by Newcastle City Council in April 2018, but the developer had recently appealed against the decision. Versant argued that the land was in a “dilapidated, derelict, vacant state” having been disused for 50 years, whilst the mural itself was “opportunistic advertising.”

However, it has been found that the old ‘iconic’ advertising mural found on the side of Blenheim House will not disappear behind a new building. Versant Developments had lost their bid against Newcastle City Council, as a government inspector had sided with Newcastle City Council to oppose the plans.

Versant claims the properties would generate £1.4 million per year for the city’s economy

Planning inspector Sarah Housden stated that Blenheim House, and the neighbouring Robert Sinclair building are “iconic and landmark buildings at a key gateway to the city centre with a high cultural and historic significance”.  She further stated that heritage harm could not outweigh the possibility of economic benefit, despite Versant claiming the properties would generate £1.4 million per year for the city’s economy.

The Local Reporting Service also revealed that Housden had warned the development would cause a drop in daylight and sunlight levels, damaging the living conditions of residents.

A Blenheim House resident, Jane Hodson-Hamilton stated her satisfaction with the decision.  She was “pleased that the inspector had recognised the importance of the site.”

It is reassuring that the Sinclair Building and Blenheim House were recognised in the appeal decision for their ‘iconic and landmark’ status and their ‘high cultural and historic significance’.

A spokesperson from Newcastle City Council stated in the Chronicle that “It is reassuring that the Sinclair Building and Blenheim House were recognised in the appeal decision for their ‘iconic and landmark’ status and their ‘high cultural and historic significance’.

Committee members deliberate on items brought before them with integrity and impartiality to make decisions purely on planning grounds, as demonstrated by the outcome of this appeal.”

The iconic mural on Westgate Road, which reads “The Robert Sinclair Tobacco Coy Ltd”, is in memory of the history of Sinclair, who sold tobacco on Westgate Road since the 1890s. Sinclair had produced the first set of Newcastle United cigarette cards.

Last modified: 6th November 2019

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