A new dawn for Scotswood was heralded on Wednesday 4th June as the long-awaited redevelopment of the area was officially launched.
Duncan Bowman (NTWDC), Eugien Jaruga (Keepmoat), Margaret Cooney, Alma Wheeler and Mike Roberts (Barratt Homes) at the new housing development 'The Rise' in Scotswood
The area in the west end of Newcastle has long been plagued by patches of dereliction.
But it has maintained a strong community spirit and identity. And in the next 20 years, a new one will be forged.
For during that time, as a result of a £265m initiative, 1,800 eco-friendly and ‘affordable’ homes will be built there, creating a new community from the ashes of the old.
Called The Rise, it is a joint venture being delivered by the New Tyne West Development Company - a partnership between Newcastle City Council, Barratt Homes and Keepmoat Homes.
However, as the champagne flowed and canapes did the rounds, Duncan Bowman of the NTWDC paid tribute to the locals who have contributed so selflessly to it.
He said: “They have an abundance in riches in its community spirit. Regeneration wouldn’t exist without community.”
The driving force behind the Scotswood residents involvement were locals Alma Wheeler, Audrey Bushell, Audrey Kennedy, Margaret Cooney and Nelly Ternent. Over the years they have acted as a bridge between the developers and the community, having a strong say in the final plan, and were presented with a special award from Keepmoat and Barratt Homes for their efforts.
Between them they have lived in Newcastle’s West End for nearly 300 years and plan to end their days there.
But 14 years ago, Nelly remembers taking a call from a Chronicle reporter telling her of plans to demolish an area of housing in Scotswood below Whickham View.
“It was on June 6. D-Day, our D-Day,” said Nelly. “He read out a series of streets, all of them going. By the end of it I couldn’t speak, I was crying so much.”
Audrey Bushell, Nelly Ternent and Janice Oliver
Despite huge reservations she and her friends in the local community played an active and vital role in the following years over the development.
Their local councillor was Coun Hazel Stephenson who revealed what they had all gone through during the controversial process.
She said: “No one can understand what it’s been like. I’ve been vilified and they’ve been vilified during the process. Now people are coming up and shaking their hands at what they see has happened today.”
Nelly said: “We’ve lost a lot of good neighbours in that time. Some of the older ones who were moved on didn’t last very long out of the community.”
Audrey Bushell added: “But it’s a dream come true. They have done a great job and I’m very happy for the people who can move into them. It’s a new era for Scotswood and a new era for Newcastle.”
While none can afford any of the ‘affordable’ homes - those up for sale range in price from £126,950 to £189,950 - they were eager to do what they could to lay the foundations for a new Scotswood community.
Audrey, who has lived in her Broadmead Way home for 40 years, joked: “Three of us were going to try and sell our houses and move in together here but the council wouldn’t wear that.”
Others, however, have been tempted to move to the new houses. Already 43 of them have been sold and, with pre-sales of 58 to Tees Valley Housing, it pushed the figure to over 100.
The wet weather couldn’t dampen the high spirits at the event, enlivened by singing performances from Bridgewater Primary School and the Excelsior Academy.