'NE1's bold, ambitious plans for Newcastle are mirrored by the wider aspirations of the city' says newly appointed Chief Executive, Adrian Waddell.
58 year old Adrian from Morpeth has worked for Business Improvement District Company, NE1 Ltd for over 9 years as Operations Director before taking up the role of Chief Executive in March this year as the BID company gears up for its second BID renewal vote.
After five months in the role, Adrian Waddell already feels the city is growing in confidence and is excited and optimistic about the future. “The spotlight is firmly on the North East with Newcastle reclaiming its rightful place in the premier league of national and international cities generating a huge amount of optimism in the city.
Recent high profile visits from Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England and Business Secretary Greg Clark coupled with the Great Exhibition of the North have all contributed to the feeling of mounting excitement and a sense of regional pride.
The Great Exhibition of the North in particular has attracted attention and generated a high level of interest in Newcastle and the wider north east. Innovation, which is embedded in the city’s DNA, is driving much of what is happening as Newcastle looks confidently to the future.
What is NE1 doing to shape Newcastle’s future?
“We are delighted that NE1’s summer activity programme is complementing the Great Exhibition and everything else that’s happening in the city. Our free, accessible events help give Newcastle the wow factor. At NE1 we’ve always had an eye on what can be done to make the most of Newcastle’s unique assets. So with the eyes of the UK firmly upon us we’ve been able to put on a fantastic show. Everything NE1 is delivering this summer is designed to shape Newcastle’s future. It is about being innovative, bold and confident making a difference now to strengthen and shape the city for the future.
NE1 is known for its’ stand out pocket parks and the latest additions do not disappoint, Adrian explains: “We have some dramatic and exciting pocket parks in the city this summer, all with their own distinct, signature elements. On Northumberland Street we have created a temporary Garden Village that will remain in place until October. It is equipped with artificial turf, deckchairs, the UK’s largest astro turf covered sofa and a life size rhinoceros it is truly eye catching! From the moment it opened, the park changed the way people used and saw Northumberland Street. The same is true of NE1’s Blackett Street weekend takeovers, during the summer the street, which is one of the city’s busiest bus routes, becomes a 1,000-foot park. Both street parks have been a huge hit with businesses and the public and are precursors to what we hope can become more permanent developments and improvements in the future.
NE1’s ever-popular Quayside Seaside, the Screen on the Green and NE1 Newcastle Motor Show in August all add to the outdoor focus for the city. There is something for everyone to enjoy and to give people more reasons to come into town and dwell longer when they get here.
These initiatives also provide a test bed for us in partnership with the City Council, transport operators and others, to review how the city centre could look and develop in the future.
What is NE1 doing to ensure that Newcastle avoids the high street decline that has blighted other towns and cities?
As a city centre we need to keep working hard to create a destination’ in the truest sense of the word with attractions and an environment that make people want to come into town. By creating interesting, exciting places with lots of free, interactive fun and things to do will encourage more families into the city. Successful towns are providing this and Newcastle must do the same.
Clearly retail is, and will continue to be, a crucial business sector for Newcastle. Newcastle is the No 1 retail destination in North East England and we want and need our high street to be commercially successful and diverse but we are acutely aware that things do need to change.
We know that to buck the trend we need to evolve and further develop our offer. To thrive, not just survive, Newcastle needs to offer more than just shopping. For long term success the city needs to be a fun, interesting place to be with plenty going on in and around the shops, business, leisure and restaurant venues. This all needs to combine with really high quality and well managed public realm, as well as having fantastic brands and retail outlets in the mix.
Where next for the city?
“We know that there is still a lot of work to be done especially around the river. NE1’s Newcastle City Marina, the Quayside Seaside and the boat race on the Tyne have all shown that the area is ripe for further development and that there is an appetite for more events and activities.
“The challenge now is how we, as a BID company, can work alongside other interested parties including the City Council, our two city universities and college and our world leading hospital, to make the most of existing opportunities and identify new ones.
What next for NE1 Ltd?
NE1’s upcoming BID renewal vote is in October, where we ask our business levy payers to vote on our plans for the next five years. This Renewal is a really big deal; through NE1 it provides the city with the capacity to test new ideas, to consider new, untried initiatives, look around Europe and globally for the best examples of how modern cities organize themselves and what they do. There’s lots of untapped potential in our city and, given a new mandate in October 2018, we are looking forward to continuing our mission to create the best possible environment for people and business.