In 1967 Basil Spence (who had recently completed the City Library, University Physics Building and an unbuilt extension to the Laing Gallery) was approached with T P Bennets to develop the vast area around the 18th century All Saints Church. The development centred around the provision of offices to support the booming services industry and expansion of the city with lower floors to provide some shopping facilities, restaurants and bars.
Devised as twelve office blocks of varying heights stepping around the church, the proposals sprawled and staggered down to the Keyside. The proposals illustrated little acknowledgement of the Georgian buildings along the Tyne or the historic street pattern. The project was highly contentious with the City Planners ‘when seen as a panorama from the Gateshead bank and from the bridges’ and was met with opposition. Large-scale demolition did take place and yet only three blocks from the proposed scheme of twelve were built (Bede, Aiden and Cuthbert House).
Inevitably the proposed developed conflicted with the Councils aspiration to retain the vistas of the church’s spire and portico, along which the area’s remaining historic courts, alleys and character of the quayside area where not lost. The development lost momentum and failed to materialise in full. The remaining derelict land was later developed in the 1980s and 1990s as unremarkable low rise housing and commercial offices with no reflection to the historical character of the area.
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