A Proper Level-Up
Eric Morgan, 16 May 2021
40 YEARS OF POSITIVE CHANGE IN TYNE AND WEAR: A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE AND INVEST – BUT A “LEVEL UP” STILL REQUIRED
Much has changed in Tyne and Wear in the last 40 years. The region had been badly affected by the collapse of the coal, shipbuilding and iron and steel/heavy industries which had been the basis of its previous success and wealth. Its image was of poor housing high unemployment and a dirty industrial environment.
There now exists a totally different economic base within an attractive natural environment including The Roman Wall, Northumbria beaches and The Simonside Hills. There are well designed modern industrial and office parks. There is the world‐renowned Newcastle Quayside complemented by the new Millennium Bridge, The Sage and The Baltic. Sunderland has an expanded University Doxford Park and another eye catching “Spire Bridge”. But the region is still at the bottom of the league in terms of economic performance.
40 years ago, we looked forward with apprehension. Today we can look forward with confidence from an attractive built and natural environment. However, one needs to assess whether the present modus operandi of the authorities can deliver the “Level Up” still needed and promised. The resources of each individual local authority are insufficient to deliver a project such as Nissan or The Sage and others which have played an important part in the revival. Currently the resources available to The LEP or to a sub‐regional mayor will tend to ensure some small‐scale success may be achieved but nothing of any scale.
There are a number of issues to be resolved: The absence of a consistent method of governance whether regional or local :Whether the national green belt policy is totally relevant to a region desperately trying to change its older housing stock : whether Enterprise Zones were positive and their future application if any: a better way to address town centre issues as previous efforts have had minimal success; Whether development corporations have a role for specific areas or problems: Past success has seen large amounts of money invested in relatively few projects, the current approach sees limited funds being spread around a few different authorities so the attempted schemes tend to be constrained ; which is the better way?
If we are to “level up” the authorities should understand the basis of current success and indeed the reasons of any failures as identified in this book. A limited number of large successful concentrated programmes have been the basis of the current revival. A similar approach creating further employment might just make the area sustainable in its own way. A proper level up.
About the Author
Eric Morgan is a former Chartered Surveyor based in Newcastle who was involved in many of the major commercial property development in Tyne Wear including Eldon Square and The Metro centre, Newcastle Quayside and many others throughout the region advising at different times both public and private sectors. He is a former chairman of William Leech Investments and Foundation, a former director of Hoults Estates and a current trustee of both The Reece Foundation and Azure Charitable Trust.
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