Proposed Ouseburn housing threatens views

Webster looks at the proposed developments for Ouseburn

Maud Webster
27th December 2021
Image: PfP-Igloo

An 18-story tower block is the latest in a run of contentious developments marked for the Ouseburn site. The scheme would include both housing as well as commercial units, a public square and a riverside promenade. 

The land is currently owned by Homes England, and is a disused industrial site. The rest of the Ouseburn has undergone significant housing redevelopment, such as Ash Sakula’s Maltings scheme next to the Tyne Bar; this riverside area unites the Ouseburn with the rest of the riverfront. 

Sat on Malmo Quay, many local people have expressed their discontent at the proposals and the potential blocking of an iconic Tyne view from Ouseburn. Critics argue this would cause a ‘major change’ to the city’s riverscape, such as the view you can attain from the Free Trade Inn pub. Gareth Kane, Lib Dem councillor for Ouseburn, critiscied the scheme, telling The Chronicle he would prefer a “more human-size development or public realm”. 

A few months ago, The Chronicle reported that the project received a £1.25mil ‘cash injection’ from the North of Tyne Combined Authority, which was vital to bridge a funding gap created due to ‘abnormal’ problems encountered on the site. A spokesman for the North of the Tyne Combined Authority commented that the scheme “ will allow for the building of much needed new homes.” As reported by The Chronicle, the developers PfP igloo cite these issues as making the decision to build such a tall housing block necessary, in order to pack in enough properties to profit from the development. Their website states they believe the Malmo Quay plans aid “enabling a bold and distinctive design to make best use of the developable land”.

The site has had a contested past few years; originally, a 32-storey skyscraper was intended for the riverside area, which was abandoned for a 13-storey tower which was also scrapped. This current 18-storey complex proposal will make the building one of the tallest in the city; which is why architects and developers have been asked to be especially sensitive to its design given its potential significant physical presence across Newcastle. 

A series of consultation events were held with the Ouseburn community in October, and previously held information about the project on a purpose built website (which has since had webpages removed). This process is waiting on the approval of an application; this is expected to be submitted to Newcastle City Council in the next few weeks. 

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AUTHOR: Maud Webster
she/they | third year architecture & urban planning student @ newcastle | co-head of culture for the 21/22 academic year

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