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Hotel jobs boost; pounds 100m revamp of prime site could lead to work for 600.

Byline: AMY HUNT

MORE than 600 jobs could be created by a pounds 100m city centre redevelopment.

Developers want to demolish the Newgate Street Shopping Centre and the towering hotel above it, replacing them with new offices, shops and three hotels.

Irish developer McAleer and Rushe, which bought the Newgate Shopping Centre for pounds 18.2m three years ago, is set to apply to Newcastle City Council for planning permission later this month.

Its proposals also include creating a new street running from Newgate Street to Fenkle Street, splitting the block in two.

Architects from Devereux have been working with English Heritage on the plans, which it hopes will complement Richard Grainger and John Dobson's buildings on Grainger Street and Clayton Street, a conservation area.

And the developer hopes its designs will breathe new life into a part of the city which has become a blot on the landscape, following on from the building of the Gate and extension of Eldon Square.

Graham Mitchell, from McAleer and Rushe, said: "After Eldon Square and the Gate our area on Newgate Street was always the next area which should be redeveloped because it's so central to that area and so prominent. It's right between the prime shopping centres and the middle link through to the Central Station.

"We're very confident about the scheme. We didn't buy this with the intention of getting planning permission and doing nothing with it, we're working hard to make it deliverable."

Mr Mitchell said the estimate of 600 new jobs through the construction of the scheme and once the development was finished was conservative.

And he said McAleer and Rushe, the company behind the pounds 90m St James's Gate development next to Newcastle's Centre for Life, was in "exploratory talks" with hotel firms over potentially occupying the hotel.

Built in the 1960s, the Newgate Shopping Centre has had a number of facelifts over the years but has been plagued by empty shop units and dwindling customers.

If permission were granted construction of the new fourstorey development, including one 165-bed four-star hotel, one 250-bed two-star hotel and one 153-bed one-star hotel, would start in 2011, with the scheme finished in 2012.

The developer held a series of information days on Newgate Street earlier this week to get feedback from local shopkeepers and councillors before putting the application in.

David Slater, Newcastle City Council's executive director of environment and regeneration, said: "We welcome this scheme which will bring new life to a core part of the city and encourage future development. "It will complement the work we are doing with our partners Capital Shopping Centres to transform Eldon Square.

"It is significant that we are now beginning to see the first signs of new investment coming forward during the recession."

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LOCATION: The area around Newgate Shopping Centre and artist's impressions of how the development could look
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 10, 2009
Words:479
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