The council is the freeholder of its former HQ. Credit: Gateshead Council

Gateshead confirms Old Town Hall intent

As revealed by Place North East, the local authority is in talks with developer Capital&Centric to redevelop the grade two-listed asset and its surrounds.

Place reported earlier this month on the ambitious Manchester firm’s eagerness to take on a North East project, and how it had locked into Gateshead as an area of opportunity.

Capital&Centric, which describes itself as a social impact developer, has built up a reputation for working well with the public sector and for delivering design-led, innovative work on often difficult sites.

Some of its best-known projects include Manchester’s 126-home Crusader Mill, the art deco former Littlewoods HQ in Liverpool, and Eyewitness Works in Sheffield.

As C&C expands beyond its Greater Manchester heartland, it is also working in Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton.

The firm is in discussions with Gateshead Council to potentially develop the Old Town Hall and sites around it.

The council owns the freehold of the site, and a 250-year lease is in place to allow regeneration plans to come forward.

Anneliese Hutchinson, the council’s interim strategic director for economy, innovation and growth, said:

“Capital & Centric’s record of accomplishment in developing historic buildings nationwide by breathing new life into them speaks volumes and we look forward to working with them on plans to regenerate our town centre.

“The Old Town Hall is a jewel in the crown for Gateshead as it is the only surviving purpose-built Victorian town hall in Tyne and Wear and is one of only five comparable listed Victorian town halls in the North East.”

The building was the council’s headquarters for almost 120 years, before the council chamber, civic suite and most council offices relocated to the new civic centre in 1987. The building has latterly been in use by a few social and cultural sector bodies, although the council said it has “always been our intention to look at a more permanent solution”.

John Moffat, joint managing director at Capital & Centric said: “Gateshead has huge potential, and the council has real ambition for the future of the town centre.

“We are proud of our track record in turning around problem brownfield sites and are actively looking to repeat our success in the North East. For us, it is not just about bricks and mortar, it is all about creating genuine neighbourhoods that pique interest from a design perspective and encourage a sense of pride locally.

“We are in discussions with the council about getting involved in key sites in Gateshead and things are looking promising. As soon as we can, we will reveal more about what is in store as part of community consultation with local people.”

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