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Barrage is a big step in the right direction.

Byline: Laura Caroe

A RIVERSIDE regeneration project which is set to transform a former industrial valley is now open.

The Ouseburn barrage will improve the lower valley area of the Newcastle inner city estuary into a place for leisure, recreational, economic and tourism activities. It is a further step in the development of the mouth of the Ouseburn, which will bring forward an estimated 15,000sqm of business and leisure floor space and approximately 300 homes.

Up to 500 new jobs are expected to be created as companies head to the new riverside.

Developed by NewcastleGateshead's city development company, 1NG, the project was handed over in a ceremony led by John Shipley, the leader of Newcastle City Council yesterday. Coun Shipley said: "The barrage is a gateway feature which will help to transform the Ouseburn into a vibrant urban village with diverse opportunities for leisure and recreation. "But it is also a powerful statement of our determination to accelerate economic development in the area, bringing jobs and prosperity." Nearby, regulars at the Tyne Bar, on Maling Street, Newcastle Quayside, toasted the opening with an ale brewed specially for the occasion, called Barrage Ale.

The pounds 4.7m barrage, with its lock and weir, will prevent the low tide exposing mud, silt and debris in the river. It is expected that by impounding the river and keeping a constant water level, a more attractive waterside environment will be created.

The barrage includes otter and swan-friendly weir steps together with an eel pass.

Floating islands have been positioned along the Ouseburn to facilitate the passage of otters and nesting boxes for kingfishers have been installed.

To mitigate the loss of tidal mud flats due to the impoundment of the tidal stretch of the Ouseburn, the project has allocated pounds 8,000 for improvements to existing mud flats.

Mark Robinson, 1NG's project director for Ouseburn, added: "The barrage opening signifies a vast improvement to the overall public realm within the Ouseburn.

"Such infrastructure improvements are vital to the future prosperity of this area, helping to present the place as an attractive area for future investment and development.

"We will now lead on a programme for further infrastructure improvements that will improve overall accessibility and legibility to the area along with the creation of new public spaces in and around the barrage."


OPEN DAY Newcastle Council leader John Shipley opens the Ouseburn Barrage.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 4, 2009
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