March 2022 

Wheeze quays are these?

The creative and leisure heart of the Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle is under threat from ill-considered development plans, writes Alastair Gilmour

Every city in the world has its creative quarters where artists, musicians, writers, photographers, dancers and film-makers explore their talents in affordable cicumstances. Normally, these communities survive in underdeveloped, low-rent outskirts where factories have died or moved on, leaving behind a pub or two and a café to service basic needs while they, in turn, attract like-minded patrons who contribute to the creative vibe. Once-neglected areas like this then grow through ingenuity and inspiration but remain true to their artistic vision.

Newcastle is no different to anywhere else in this respect with proposals for the Ouseburn Valley to the east of the city centre and Quayside that include a leisure complex at Spillers Quay complete with obligatory ferris wheel which was controversially given the green light by the city council in 2019, though construction is yet to begin.

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Artist’s illustration of the proposed development at Malmo Quay, Ouseburn, Newcastle. Right, The Tyne Bar and Free Trade Inn will operate – and suffer – under the shadow of the scheme if it is allowed to proceed.

The latest proposal is a major new apartment complex on Malmo Quay, at the mouth of the Ouseburn where the small river meets the mighty Tyne. The plans have already sparked fears that one of the city’s most vibrant districts will suffer strangulation for the sake of a trendy address. Pubs such as The Tyne Bar, The Cluny, the Ship Inn, Arch 2, Brinkburn St, The Cumberland Arms and The Tanners could be overshadowed – literally ­– and their unique orientation compromised by a development dominated by a beige-coloured tower block likened to a gigantic cheese grater.

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Additionally, one of the country’s most famous pub views could be lost, namely the spectacular outlook from the Free Trade Inn upriver towards the Baltic Centre For Contemporary Art and the Sage Music Centre, not to mention Tyneside’s legendary bridges.

The popular Ouseburn pubs’ bosses and patrons have spoken out against the project, which is now under consideration by Newcastle City Council, claiming the 18-storey tower would irreparably damage a setting that many a city would covet and nurture. The scheme is expected to generate significant opposition before city councillors decide its fate later this year. 

London-based developer PfP-igloo’s plans include 150 new homes in total, spread across Malmo Quay and Spillers Quay. As well as 62 apartments in the 18-storey tower, 13 townhouses and two duplex apartments are planned on Malmo Quay and up to 73 homes in a further set of buildings up to eight storeys tall on Spillers Quay.

PfP-igloo has said that the tower had been “sited and sculpted to protect neighbouring properties’ views as much as possible, while creating a distinctive landmark”. “Sited and sculpted” is a nonsensical phrase to justify the admission that such a large tower is needed to make the regeneration of the disused land financially viable.

The scale and massing of a tower block this size is totally out of keeping with the surrounding area and will dominate the Quayside, Ouseburn and East End of Newcastle. The building will be the biggest on the Quayside by some margin and is inappropriate for its location.

The deadline for official objections has passed but the fight to come to some sort of sensible agreement will continue. Pubs have power!

The Tyne Bar

Free Trade Inn

*Keep up to date with developments at the social media posts from the above-mentioned pubs (better, still, visit them) and from The Ouseburn Trust www.ouseburntrust.org.uk

 

Disco Confirmo

Time flies – nay, flashes. It’s Flash House Brewing’s sixth birthday on Saturday March 26 and – of course – there’s a party (2-10pm) at the North Shields brewhouse on the town’s Northumberland Street which overlooks the Tyne and Fish Quay.

Flash House’s top man Jack O’Keefe has promised to dust off the disco ball, as it’s been a while – birthday parties number four and five fell victim to the pandemic.

Local pizza legends Crust Social to provide the eats.

Run for Home

The man who brought you the Greggs sausage roll burger called the Dirty Thoughts of Cheryl Cole and its kitchen kins the Beef Chegwin and A Night In With Susan Boyle has managed to cross the Polish border and escape the invasion of Ukraine.

Dave Carr, who operates the Brandling Villa and The Punch Bowl in Newcastle upon Tyne has been campervanning and cycling across Europe for the past six months experiencing other people’s pub culture to the absolute limit.

It’s what the guy does – studies by being there, wringing every drop of creativity out of his often daft ideas but invariably carries them out with great assurance. And nothing is sacred; if something eventually doesn’t work to his high standards, off into the long grass it goes.

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Dave, a lover of the mid and Eastern European way of life as well as Soviet literature and iconography, has been posting social media reports on his travels, mainly about restaurants, pubs, cathedrals, dogs, beer and food. He’s taken up our invitation to expand on his experiences, culminating in the dash towards Poland and safety (if you can call two days of stop-start traffic jams a ‘dash’). The results will appear on these pages in due course.

He ended his almost daily bulletins on March 24 by letting folks back home know he was OK and to stop fussing. A caption to a handful of traffic photos reads: “Lviv to Krakovets, a very busy border crossing at Krakovets. Calm here but panic buying and nervousness in Lviv.

“After a short burst of elation as we ended an awful day at the border I quickly started to return to an overwhelming sadness for Ukraine.

“Heading to Rzeszow for the night I started to wonder where the other families were going, who they’d left behind and whether they’d ever return. A total disaster for Russia and Ukraine, led by a mafia bully, appeased by western beneficiaries in return for cheaper natural gas.

“Good luck Ukraine.

“Удачи Україні”