Plans to improve access to Newcastle Central station have received Listed Building Consent, making it look likely that work could start before the end of the year.
Last year, Newcastle City Council and partners announced plans for a multi-million-pound improvement project to open-up access to the 170-year-old station, improve traffic flows in front, accommodate more passengers and change taxi pick-up points and short stay parking. Residents, taxi drivers and Historic England were consulted.
The plans will open up two new accesses for the station – one in the west, which will take passengers from Central Parkway into a new concourse, and a second at the front of the station on Neville Street, where a car rental business is currently located.
On 20 January, the city council approved a revised development framework that gives developers guidance on investing in the Forth Yards area southwest of the station. That could lead to a new a multi-storey car park, office space and up to 2,500 homes on the 22-hectare site.
The city council’s cabinet member for employment and culture, Cllr Ged Bell, welcomed the Listed Building Consent. “This is great news for the city,” he said.
“Newcastle Central Station is the gateway to the region. With rising passenger numbers, we need to ensure it offers a pleasant experience while playing its part to help the city recover and grow after the pandemic.
“The new entrances will open the station up to the wider area – Stephenson Quarter, and the Forth Yards area that will be the city’s next big development site providing quality homes with views of the river.
“By improving traffic flows at the front of the station, we hope to cut carbon emissions, helping the city become carbon-zero by 2030 and tackling climate change.
“Central Station was opened by Queen Victoria and is a Grade I listed building. Although some demolition will be required, opening it up will expose original features that have been hidden away for years and will take the building back to the way it looked in 1850.”
Paul McKeown, investment director for Network Rail, said: “This is a fantastic project and receiving listed building consent brings us one step closer to realising these improvements.
“We’re delighted to be a part of this vital scheme and will continue to work closely with both Newcastle City Council and LNER on these improvements, which will open up the station and make it more pleasant for passengers.”
The total cost of the initial works is estimated to be £3.455 million. Of this, £3.305 million will come from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and £150,000 from Newcastle City Council.
Facilities in the western dock area will need to be relocated to create new public open space. They include air handling units, some staff parking and small storage buildings.
Claire Ansley, director of customer experience at LNER, which manages the station, said: “We are pleased that the plans to enhance Newcastle Central Station have been approved.
“The enhancements we’re making will help make the station more accessible from the surrounding areas and provide an even warmer welcome to the thousands of people travelling to and from the city every day.”
In 2017-18, 8.7 million passengers used Newcastle Central station – a steady rise since 2011. Passenger numbers are predicted to grow by a further 30 per cent by 2023.