In 2003 the Places for People Group and Newcastle City Council invited Beyond Green to run an Enquiry by Design for the regeneration of an area in east Newcastle experiencing population loss and economic and physical decline. The aim of the work was to inform the statutory consultation process for the physical renewal of the area.
The five-day event brought local residents and stakeholders together with a team of 30 designers, planners and communications experts to talk about what could and should happen to the area over the next few years. The enquiry culminated in a revised masterplan and regeneration strategy.
Whilst local councillors initially led opposition to the process, after a week of blood-and-guts community participation a new vision and strategy was formulated. It was described by Labour Councillor David Wood as “the best piece of work in Newcastle for years”! Nick Brown, MP for Newcastle East, commented “this is better, this is the right way to do it.”
In addition to the intensive community enquiry, our work included a sustainability evaluation of the draft masterplan; proposals for enhancing environmental sustainability, design and effective stakeholder participation in regeneration and re-development; collaboration with architects, landscape designers and destination consultants to develop proposals for a new neighbourhood heart, improved streets, mixed use neighbourhoods, five principal housing typologies and a coherent and beautiful public realm.
The most exciting thing for us about this project was discovering how people who are usually alienated or excluded from planning can become extraordinarily visionary and eloquent when a supportive and disciplined framework is provided. Our collaborative methodology built a strong and enthusiastic consensus among local residents and city, regional and national stakeholders for what could become an exemplary sustainable community regeneration initiative.
The Walker Riverside Area Action Plan was adopted by Newcastle City Council on 4th April 2007.