Written by Chris Barnard, Ouseburn Trust's  Chief Officer | February 2022

In recent weeks, pfpIgloo has submitted a hybrid planning application to develop Malmo and Spillers Quay with predominantly residential development, on land owned by Homes England and Newcastle City Council. These are both key sites in the Ouseburn, at the mouth of the river, and both on the Tyne. They are visible from Newcastle Quayside, Gateshead, and the Ouseburn itself and so it is critical such a proposal for these sites is of a quality deserving of the 29th coolest neighbourhood in the world.

In order to best capture the views of those who live, work and visit Ouseburn, the Ouseburn Trust Planning and Development Group is hosting a public meeting at 5pm on 8th February at the Cycle Hub on Spillers Quay. Before that date, I want to give you a brief insight into what we do at the Trust to help protect and shape the future of our built environment. 

The Planning and Development Group

The Ouseburn Trust's Planning and Development Group has operated for many years with the objective of shaping the regeneration of the Lower Ouseburn Valley to ensure that its special character, valued by so many, is respected and enhanced by new developments. The Trust is not a statutory consultee but seeks to work with developers in an open and participatory way to maximise the influence we and our community has over their proposals. We provide guidance tp developers on how their plans can enhance the special character of the Valley and how they might also avoid undermining it using Building for Life principles to shape our input.

We facilitate consultations on planning proposals and are able to provide a more independent stance and facilitate consultation to a greater degree than the City Council acting alone.

In its early days, the Trust led on the development of some buildings in the Valley as owner or initiator, for example attracting subsidies to develop sites that were not commercially viable and would have remained undeveloped. It continues to seek opportunities to do this where possible.

The Trust monitors key sites too, liaising with owners, in order to anticipate when any may need protecting or opportunities to improve them might arise.

This approach has led to the better development of the built environment, taking account of a variety of views and the development of sites that are not commercially viable.

The Trust works with developers on a number of significant developments each year, such as previous Igloo schemes at the Malings (shaping the material use, conservation area impact, servicing, sustainable transport, and parking), and Lower Steenberg’s Yard (flood risk, quay wall treatment, material use, roofline, permeability, and servicing/parking solutions), and the McIver scheme on the former Quay Timber site (design materials, massing/heights, river frontage, sustainable transport and parking/sustainable transport solutions).

What is sometimes harder to measure, but of arguably greater benefit, is the influence the Trust has over those schemes that don’t take place. There have been numerous small and large schemes during the Trust’s lifetime that have not happened, in part as a result of our intervention, and identification of reasons why they were not right for this community. 

Make your voice heard

Join us on Tuesday 8th February at the Cycle Hub to share your views on the river mouth proposals and by all means, become a regular member of our Planning and Development Group to help us shape a better future for the Ouseburn Valley. We currently have around 30 members, with a dozen regular attendees made up of planning professionals, architects, residents, and many others who simply have a passion for the Valley. The group is open to anyone and we are always seeking to diversify our membership and the range of views that shape the outcome of proposals every month. We meet every fourth Thursday of the month. Contact [email protected] for more info or to get involved.