joe robertson newcastle park wars
Joe Robertson Media Archive

A WRANGLE over separate plans for a leisure park and science park in Newcastle could result in the city losing both. Millionaire businessman Joe Robertson of Newcastle and Monaco says that his planned £10 million leisure park for the city will be scrapped if the Manors site is withdrawn.

And city council leader Jeremy Beecham says the council will fight plans for the science park all the way. Mr. Joe Robertson who has already submitted plans for the leisure part development, says of the stalemate “The people of the North East are in danger of losing both developments now”. The city council passionately favours the leisure park idea, which will also provide 1,500 low-cost parking places for city shoppers.

But the newly formed Tyne Wear Urban Development Corporation feels just as strong about having industrial development there. They have started the process of forcibly taking half of the site from the city council and are buying the other half from British Rail.

The council’s declared intention to oppose the compulsory purchase of the site from them will mean a long drawn-out battle, with the entire site remaining undeveloped until one side wins. Then, if Newcastle City council’s appeal to the Department of the Environment is successful, the UDC will still own the half bought from British Rail ‚Äî thereby blocking the leisure park plan.

Mr Joe Robertson says: “The very least they could do is to hang fire on acquiring the British Rail site. “If everything else goes in their favour, they could buy it then. Otherwise their action will merely frustrate the ultimate development of the site. Mr Beecham said he is hopeful that the UDC will come round to the way of thinking of the city council, who are pressing ahead with the cinema concept. But a spokesman for the UDC said they are equally adamant about the science park. They said that both the (university aad polytechnic favoured the Manors site, although the spokesman admitted that it was chosen from a limited number of alternatives of which the Manors site is the closest to the colleges. A spokesman for Newcastle city council said that in addition to the leisure park plan, the city is desperate for the 1,500 parking places it will provide. The science park would mean the loss of 500 existing parking places.