joe robertson Row as science park site is sold
Joe Robertson Media Archive

Tyne and Wear development Co in fight with Joe Robertson over bid to build science park on Warner’s site.

A WAR of words erupted last night between Newcastle City Council’s leader and the chief executive of the Tyne Wear Development Corporation after plans for a vast cinema complex were unveiled hours earlier.

The city council yesterday announced it had sold a 7.7-acre city centre site for more than £lm to the American film company Warner Brothers.

The TWDC was in the process of applying to Parliament for a compulsory purchase-style order on the old Manors goods yard, which,it had earmarked for a science park development.

After yesterday’s announcement to the media. Mr Alastair Balls, chief executive of TWDC, retaliated and said it was the first indication he had that the city council had taken this step.

He said he was disappointed with the council’s decision to sell the land on the fringe of the city centre for a cinema and added he was seeking information from the council about the terms of the sale to discover just how far the deal was complete.

Mr Balls said he did not want to conduct negotiations, through Press statements except to say a further meeting was arranged for June 21 with the leader of the council to discuss the whole question of a science park for the Manors site.

Coun Jeremy Beechham, leader of the council, immediately drafted a letter to Mr Bails accusing him of being misleading in several respects and “quite unnecessarily provocative.”

He said Mr Balls had been aware of the Warner Brothers negotiations with the city council for some months and was also told by the chief executive earlier this week the contract had been concluded.

His letter said: “You indicate that you do not wish to ‘conduct negotiations through Press statements’. You have constantly used the Press, not to negotiate, – but to promote the UDC’s preferences and to denigrate the councils proposals.

I have not agreed to meet on June 21 to discuss the science park on the Manors site. I am prepared, with colleagues, to discuss the location of a science park elsewhere in the city”. During yesterday’s announcement about the multi-million pound 12 screen cinema complex with seating for 3,200 people, which will also include a restaurant, fast food court and 800-space car park. Warner Brothers said their plans would enhance and complement those of city businessman Mr Joe Robertson’s for a £10m leisure park nearby.

Joe Robertson, of the City Leisure Group, recently applied to buy land owned by British Rail, to the south of the Manors site, for his planned leisure park, but was outbid by the development corporation.