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Planners advise backing of new city landmark; report says scheme will enhance area and bring jobs.

Byline: DANIEL HOLLAND Local democracy reporter daniel.holland@reachplc.com

A STRIKING new city centre landmark could get the seal of approval from Newcastle council bosses this week.

Huge plans for the imposing 14-storey Bank House office block on the site of the old Bank of England building in Pilgrim Street will go before councillors on Friday.

It is hoped that the project, led by a property firm owned by billionaire brothers David and Simon Reuben, will act as an "important catalyst" for a massive regeneration of the wider East Pilgrim Street area.

But opponents to the scheme say that will cause "substantial harm" to the character of the city centre, damaging views from Grey's Monument and other historic locations.

Council planning officials have also raised concerns that the new landmark would look "overly large" without other development around it.

However, in a report sent to the local authority's planning committee ahead of a meeting this Friday, they conclude that councillors should back the plans.

They said: "It is clear that the proposal will make a major contribution to the regeneration of the wider East Pilgrim Street area, providing jobs and environmental improvement in terms of enhanced public realm and improved walking/cycling provision.

"Given the applicant owns the entire block and their commitment to work with the council to deliver a comprehensive development on the rest of the site, including the retention and refurbishment of the listed buildings, it is considered, on balance, that this scheme can be supported."

The plans, from Taras Properties, will also include a new cafe and restaurant on the ground floor and a new public square.

But objectors to the project say it is "not an iconic building" and would be "out of context with the surrounding area".

Historic England, the Newcastle Conservation Advisory Panel, and the Northumberland and Newcastle Society have all raised concerns about its size.

However, designers Ryder Architecture said: "The development acts as a catalyst for the regeneration of the wider area and to set a quality benchmark for this prominent city centre gateway reflecting the city's history, its culture and its aspirations for a successful and vibrant future."

The former Bank of England building, near the Swan House Roundabout, was torn down in 2012 after the 1960s eyesore had lain empty for years.

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Artist's impression of Bank House on the site of the former Bank of England building

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 3, 2019
Words:401
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