The Newcastle Gateshead’s urban core is the economic hub of the north east, and Northumberland Street is the premier outdoor pitch in the city centre.
However the street is underperforming, and has ceased to be considered the Oxford Street of the north, as it once was. The recessions, changing shopping habits, lack of retail variety and a strategic vision, have all had a detrimental impact upon the street. With the economic downturn, several reports have been recently published on the plight of the country’s high streets. Following the Portas Review, city councils have been challenged to‘re-imagine’ the high street.
The City Council highlighted improvements to Northumberland Street as one of its key priorities. As things stand, Northumberland Street already fails to complement the recently-improved retail offer in other parts of the city, and has not yet begun to prepare for the challenges to traditional retailing presented by the internet age.
To prevent retailers seeking better opportunities and moving to other destinations, it was recognised that Northumberland Street must retain its existing shoppers and seek to engage with a wider audience by diversifying and enhancing the retail offer and cultural and environmental experience.
The brief was developed between J and L Gibbons and the City Council. It was agreed that the ‘need’ and the ‘vision’ for the public realm should be clearly expressed in an accessible document that was well illustrated and had a visual presence

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