After lying vacant for over 25 years, one of the most historic sites in Gateshead – the former Freight Depot, just off the Felling Bypass – will now be redeveloped, with 270 new homes being built over the next five years.
The Gateshead Regeneration Partnership (GRP) is responsible for overcoming all the challenges that the site posed, including clearing abandoned old railway workings and remediating the former industrial land ready for redevelopment. Now, a final injection of cash from Homes England – the Government’s housing body – has enabled work to begin.
GRP is a joint venture involving Gateshead Council, regeneration and house building specialist Countryside Partnerships (formerly named Vistry Partnerships), and registered housing provider Home Group. It is driving a £350 million initiative to create around 1,500 new homes on 16 sites across the borough.
The Freight Depot site is one of the biggest the partnership will develop in Gateshead, and it will be transformed into 270 properties for sale, private and affordable rent.
Countryside Partnerships’ house building brand, Linden Homes, will market the 165 homes for sale, Home Group will offer 25 for affordable rent, while private rented sector homes specialist, Sigma Capital, will market 80 of the new units for private rent under its build-to-rent brand, Simple Life.
The new two, three and four bedroomed properties will meet Lifetime Homes standards – meaning they will be suitable for all, including those of restricted mobility – and they can be adapted as people’s needs change over time. They will also have much larger rooms, higher levels of energy efficiency and greater environmental performance than the average new build home.
The development will also be the first housing scheme to be connected to Gateshead’s District Heating Network – a new, low carbon (soon to be zero carbon) energy centre which generates both heat and power locally, via a new 5km underground network of heat pipes.
GRP’s objectives are more than just building houses. As well as improving housing quality and choice, it continues to provide job and training opportunities – a minimum of 25% of which go to local people – and an economic uplift, with a quarter of the supply budget committed to be spent with businesses within the borough.
Here, 18 jobs will be safeguarded and 15 apprenticeships created. The Freight Depot scheme will also offer more than 300 work experience, skills and training opportunities for local young people.
Also, the thoughtfully designed layout will incorporate a community hub and attractive landscaping – including open spaces and green access routes through the site – for both pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy.
Dave Brown, Managing Director with Countryside Partnerships North East, said: “We are delighted to be on the verge of delivering this ambitious mixed tenure development close to the centre of Gateshead. A landmark project for the partnership, the Freight Depot follows successful projects that have created over 423 homes in Birtley, Deckham, Rowlands Gill, Windy Nook and Saltwell – where our Trilogy I development was chosen as the country’s Best Regeneration Project of more than 71 homes, at the 2018 Inside Housing Awards.
“I’m confident this project will build on this success, creating more high quality homes for the borough and a bustling community on a formerly unused parcel of land.”
Councillor John Adams, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said “It is fantastic to finally get this ambitious development in the heart of Gateshead underway. Regenerating an unused brownfield site into much needed homes to meet local housing need will not only improve choice and availability, but deliver an economic uplift for the town centre nearby.”
Laura Carr, Development and Delivery Manager at Home Group, said: “We are delighted to be involved in the exciting Freight Depot plans in Gateshead, which will deliver a large number of much-needed homes to the area.
“In achieving this latest milestone, the project will soon be underway and able to deliver cutting-edge properties to a historic site – as well as fostering skills and opportunities within the local community.”
Graeme Reay, Land Director at Sigma, said: “We are excited to work with the Gateshead Regeneration Partnership and our long standing partners – Countryside Partnerships North East – to build and deliver much-needed homes for Gateshead at Freight Depot.
“The development, with a fantastic choice of tenure, is set to become a thriving new community and we’re thrilled to be offering local renters’ choice and peace of mind through new-build, high-quality rental – matched with a professional service. With over 5,000 properties already built in the UK, we are delighted to be launching our first homes within the Gateshead area”.
The Homes England support comes from the government’s Local Authority Accelerated Construction (LAAC) programme, which was launched to help unlock public land and increase the speed of delivery on local authority housing schemes.
The first residents are expected to move into the new homes in December 2023 with completion of the large-scale project expected in early 2028.
*Picture caption: (Left to right) Cllr John Adams, Cabinet Member for Housing at Gateshead Council; Peter Udall, Strategic Director at Gateshead Council; Kenny Brewster, Regional Investment and Acquisitions Director at Sigma Capital; Stephen Teagle, Chief Executive of Countryside Partnerships; Graeme Reay, Land Director at Sigma Capital; Laura Carr, Development and Delivery Manager at Home Group and Dave Brown, Managing Director with Countryside Partnerships North East.