joe robertson has fun park
Joe Robertson Media Archive

Newcastle City Council back property developer Joe Robertson.

NEWCASTLE City Council leader Coun Jeremy Beecham said yesterday the authority would fight the Government’s development corporation over ownership of a site where a £10m leisure park is planned. A scheme by Newcastle businessman Mr Joe Robertson for a fun park on the Manors goods yard site has been welcomed bv Coun Beecham, but opposed by Tyne Wear Development Corporation, which favours a science park there.

The local authority owns most of the site, which is just east of the city centre Crest Hotel, with British Rail owning the rest. TWDC is the planning authority. Coun Beecham said yesterday: “This is out land and we are not going to part with it voluntarily to the TWDC.”

He said the corporation had statutory power to “vest” the land ‚the equivalent of making a compulsory purchase order. “But to do that; they may need Parliamentary approval and we will oppose them,” he said.

Coun Beecham welcomed the science park idea ‚ but said it could be situated elsewhere in the city. He said the corporation’s function was to get development going which would not otherwise take place. “I do not see imposing their own preference over that of the city and the private sector as a proper use of resources. I hope that they will, on reflection, see that is right ‚there are a great many things the TWDC can and should be doing where nothing is likely to happen.”

But TWDC chief executive Mr Alastair Balls said the £3m – £4m research and high technology science park would have to be near the city centre. The advice we have been getting from other areas such as Leeds, Bradford and Oxford is that science parks are fairly delicate forms of development and in order for them to be a real success they have to be placed in a location within easy walking distance of the university and polytechnic,” he said.

“The last thing we want is some kind of confrontation and we don’t believe this is likely.” The leisure park scheme includes a 16-screen multi-screen cinema, a roller rink, bowling alley, soft play area, American diner and car parking. The science park would be used by researchers with commercial interests and small high-technology firms. Developers are already interested, TWDC says. Mr Balls said relations with local authorities were “extremely harmonious”.