Gateshead is expected to see its economy revolutionised, over 1,100 jobs created and shopping in the area transformed, as the first phase of a massive new retail and leisure complex opens (23 May) followed by a weekend of free family friendly activities.
The Trinity Square development is expected to more than double retail spend in Gateshead and catapult the town up 500 places in the national rankings of shopping destinations. An injection of high-profile national retailers such as Sports Direct and Costa, alongside locally-grown businesses and one of the largest Tesco stores in the region, will bring a shopping and leisure experience to the centre of Gateshead that it has not seen in decades.
Made possible thanks to over £150m of private sector investment from developer Spenhill, Trinity Square includes a health centre and office space. It sits within sight of the famous Tyne Bridge and cheek-by-jowl with one of the North’s busiest transport interchanges.
With the centre’s first cinema in over 30 years and accommodation for almost 1,000 resident Northumbria University students to follow hot on the heels of today’s first openings, Council Leader Mick Henry expects the project to be as significant a landmark in the town’s history as the unveiling of the world-famous Angel of the North.
Cllr Henry said: “This is a brand new economic and symbolic heart for Gateshead. Despite being in the midst of a national recession, this is the most significant milestone in the regeneration of Gateshead for generations. It’s a real defiant sign of our economic resilience.”
Gateshead became famous for its large-scale regeneration projects following the 1990 Garden Festival, which saw hundreds of acres of derelict land reclaimed for new homes, shops and offices. In 1998, the Angel of the North became an internationally renowned symbol for the culture-led regeneration work taking place in Gateshead and was quickly followed by BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, the iconic tilting Gateshead Millennium Bridge and The Sage Gateshead international music venue.
Cllr Henry added: “Residents and visitors will experience a huge step-change in what Gateshead has to offer. Over a quarter of a century of culture-led regeneration has directly created the confidence and belief, both here and from investors, that has made the delivery of this project possible. The Angel of the North, BALTIC and The Sage Gateshead transformed perceptions of Gateshead and laid the groundwork for Trinity Square. This development is a major quality-of-life improvement for the people of Gateshead, with its high quality public spaces together with the creation of a new vibrant and diverse evening economy.”
“We’ve already got some massive private sector employers like Metrocentre, which is Europe’s largest indoor shopping centre and Team Valley, which was Britain’s first purpose-built trading estate. When you combine those with excellent transport links and a reputation for creativity, you start to see why Gateshead’s economy continues to perform more strongly than most of our nearby neighbours. And hopefully that’s going to continue. We’ve got three more local, retail-led developments, creating over 700 jobs and all either underway or about to start.”
Over 4,000 individual tradespersons have been involved during the 37 month construction process to date. Over 1,000 additional construction jobs have been secured as a direct result of the project, one of the biggest of its type outside of London. The construction has been spearheaded by Bowmer & Kirkland; the firm ensuring an on-time and on-budget completion, despite one of the worst winters on record.
Three new pedestrianised streets now meet at central Gateshead’s first ever European style city square, on an eight acre site that once accommodated the infamous Owen Luder designed ‘Get Carter’ car park. The square, named Trinity Square, will soon house a large-scale stainless steel artwork, ‘Halo’ by award-winning artist Stephen Newby. All of the facilities expected of a modern city square are accommodated, including public toilets. The materials used in the square are of the highest quality, coming from the same Pennine quarry as those in Whitehall and Oxford Street. Neighbouring West Street has also been improved to meet the same standards.
Trinity Square’s anchor, Tesco Extra, itself includes a number of firsts for the company’s stores in the North East and will feature a large health and beauty section including a nail bar, an extensive Florence and Fred clothing department and a Food to Go section. The store has already taken on hundreds of local people, including 140 unemployed people recruited and trained through a partnership with Gateshead Council.
Doug Wilson, Tesco Corporate Affairs Manager, said: “It’s a very proud day for Tesco to see the new Gateshead Extra store open and serving local people in the heart of the stunning Trinity Square development.
“Gateshead now has the shopping and social hub that it deserves, a place where people will want to shop, visit and spend time in.”
Centre Manager, Tony Pickering comments, “We are delighted that today has finally arrived and we warmly welcome the community of Gateshead to experience the new retail and leisure offer. Not only providing great employment opportunities within the area, many of the retail and leisure tenants opening their doors over the coming months will be new to Gateshead”.