13th Jan 2015
Student flats opposite Theatre Royal Newcastle
Plan for student flats plan opposite Theatre Royal hits opposition
Civic society The Northumberland and Newcastle Society has objected to Newcastle's Grey Street scheme
Plans for student housing in a street described as the finest in England have hit opposition from one of the oldest civic societies in the country.
The Northumberland & Newcastle Society, which this year marks its 90th anniversary, has objected to a scheme for the former Turk’s Head Hotel in Grey Street in Newcastle.
It was most recently occupied by Barclays bank, which moved out in May, leaving the building vacant.
The 1830s frontage of the building is grade II-star listed. There is a large, unlisted, triangular-shaped 1980s extension at the rear which sits within an internal courtyard and includes two levels of parking with three floors of offices above.
The scheme includes a two-storey extension above the courtyard building.
The society, which has 700 members, works to protect valuable buildings and landscapes in the North East.
Its Tyneside committee has objected to the scheme, saying that while it appreciates that there is a need for student accommodation in the city and supports the re-use of the building it does not feel that Grey Street is a suitable location for this use.
It highlights that Grey Street is known as one of the most important architectural assets in the country and must be dealt with sensitively.
Committee chairman John Matthews said: “The idea of putting the building to a new use is great, but we feel that with the proliferation of student housing elsewhere in the city, Grey Street, of all places, is not the best location for a conversion of this type.
“We don’t think student housing is appropriate for Grey Street, bearing in mind its historic importance and we would rather see another use for the building.
“It is our premier street and careful consideration should be given to it.”
The building was formerly home to The Royal Turks Head Hotel
Among the latest student accommodation schemes in the city is the start of demolition work on Norwich Union House on Westgate Road in the city centre, with the site scheduled for student housing.
A major student accommodation project on the former Tyne Tees Television site on City Road has also just been completed.
Planners say the scale of the rear extension of the Grey Street scheme has been carefully considered to ensure that it does not have a detrimental impact on the townscape.
“The introduction of student accommodation within this context, retaining and extending the existing built form, is not considered to have a harmful effect on the character and appearance of the area and is likely to add to its vitality with the student occupants supporting local retail and leisure,” they say.
“The proposal would also seek to bring a listed building, of national significance, back into a sustainable use, proposing a scheme which is sensitive to and seeks to retain its character and appearance of those original features of historic importance.
“The proposed works to the rear courtyard building seek to improve the appearance and character of the existing outdated 1980s extension.”
The application is supported by a report from Archaeo-Environment Ltd which documents the history of the site, including the fact that the building was, from the outset in 1838, the Turks Head Hotel and although its name changed, it remained as such until the mid-1980s when it closed and extensive demolition and refurbishment took place.
The report says that while the significance of the building is high, the extent of this is now concentrated on the architectural form of the facade as part of developer Richard Grainger’s sweeping scheme for the centre of Newcastle.
A grand, open-well internal staircase was added in 1900 and is the only architectural element to remain that provides any evidence of the grandeur of the former hotel. The proposal seeks to retain such architectural features.
Planners are recommending backing for the scheme.