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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Plans submitted to demolish Castle Leazes and make way for £250million redevelopment.

Demolition plans lodged for Newcastle University's Castle Leazes halls ahead of £250m redevelopment

Plans to tear down a major student housing block at Newcastle University have officially been put before city decision-makers.

The university announced a £250 million scheme earlier this year to demolish its Castle Leazes halls of residence and redevelop the 1960s-built site with modern accommodation.

Castle Leazes provided around 1,250 beds and has been home to tens of thousands of learners in its 50-plus years, but it has now been deemed that its outdated accommodation blocks “no longer provide a satisfactory level of student accommodation”.

The Spital Tongues site is due to be closed at the end of the 2023/24 academic year this summer, with the university and Unite Students working up plans to build new blocks in its place that are expected to open in 2027 and 2028.

Proposals to demolish the existing 17 accommodation buildings have now been submitted to Newcastle City Council for consideration, with local authority bosses being told that the work needs to start “as soon as possible” while the redevelopment plans are being finalised.

A planning application lodged with the council states that there university has an “immediate and pressing shortage” of student beds and that a “seamless transition” is required between Castle Leazes being knocked down and its replacement going up in order to keep up with demand.

A report from consultants Pegasus Group adds that, while the buildings meet their safety requirements, there are “significant maintenance backlog liabilities” and that even making a substantial investment in remodelling the site “would not achieve fit for purpose accommodation that would be required to meet modern expectations and student needs”.

They say: “The buildings at Castle Leazes are of their time and do not provide facilities or spaces which reflect the needs of the modern student. The buildings are ‘life-spent’, costly to maintain and also perform poorly in terms of sustainability.

“The applicants have considered refurbishing the buildings however this would be at significant cost and given the shape and configuration of the buildings, it would still not meet modern standards, furthermore a retrofit of the buildings would also provide only a very limited operational carbon saving compared to the site’s redevelopment.”

The majority of the Castle Leazes site was developed in the mid to late-1960s and it is the last halls of residence at the university which offers a fully catered food offer.

Its demolition is expected to take around a year to complete, if approved by the city council.

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