Newcastle's Science City investment welcomed

June 16, 2016 3:15 PM
By Greg Stone
A little over a decade ago, I took a deep breath and signed the paperwork - and a large cheque - agreeing the purchase of the Brewery site for what was then the Science City scheme, in a partnership between the council, Newcastle University, and the RDA.
In regeneration, it often takes at least 10 years for seeds to flower, so I am glad that the Science Central project has today taken a huge step forward with the announcement of investment of £350m from Legal and General to develop the site. I congratulate those who have secured this deal, which will be of immense economic importance for the city. We all look forward to seeing the project built and occupied by companies driving the science and technology economy.
The intervening years have not been easy. Gordon Brown's announcement of Science Cities did not come with any funding attached. The recession slowed investment for a long time. As with the Stephenson Quarter now coming to fruition, the current leader of the council was initially a critic rather than a champion of the project. However, the work of Liberal Democrat former council leader John Shipley in persuading Government to pilot Accelerated Development Zones allowing local authorities to benefit from business rates on key sites should not be overlooked in unlocking the potential of this site.
I hope it will not be seen as churlish to remind the council of a linked deal agreed by the then Liberal Democrat council administration to acquire the bottling plant area of the brewery site to provide affordable housing. There seems to have been very little news on this in recent years and I would urge the council to confirm whether this commitment still exists.
Cllr Greg Stone Liberal Democrat, Newcastle City Council
BACKGROUND
Legal & General today announced its plans to partner with Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University, to help build and finance the £350 million Newcastle Science Central development.

Science Central will become a major UK hub for scientific research, and technology businesses. The North-East's new devolution deal creates the opportunity to bring this powerful local vision to life, creating knowledge-based jobs for future generations in Newcastle and extending the Northern Powerhouse to "the North of the North".

Newcastle Science Central is one of the biggest urban regeneration projects of its kind in the UK. The 24-acre science and technology hub on the former brewery site, famed for brewing Newcastle Brown Ale, is located in Newcastle's city centre and is set to create over 4,000 jobs, 500,000 sq ft of office space, and 450 new homes. Legal & General's initial £65 million investment will deliver over 200,000 sq ft of Grade A office space, facilitating significant economic growth in the City, and unlocking further investment in commercial and residential opportunities at Science Central.

Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University, said: "Today's announcement by Legal & General is a reflection of what has been achieved so far and testament to the potential of Science Central as an exemplar of sustainable urban development.

"Building on our recent outstanding research successes, with the announcement of our three National centres - the National Centre for Ageing Science and Innovation, the National Institute for Smart Data Innovation (NISDI) and the EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration - this investment will take us a step closer to realising our vision for Science Central."


Newcastle Science Central is located in the city's Accelerated Development Zone, next to Newcastle United's football ground, St James's Park, and to the north of Newcastle train station