Garry Hope of Robertson, Cllr Alex Hay and igloo's Pippa Heron. Credit: NCC

Robertson hands over Newcastle’s Pattern Shop

Developer igloo has worked in partnership with the city council on the £9m restoration of the historic engineering workshop, which now features more than 30,000 sq ft of workspace.

The Pattern Shop, behind Central Station, is where Robert Stephenson built steam engines exported around the world.

The grade two-listed structure fell empty in 2008 and lay derelict until NCC and igloo, now part of Places for People, mapped out new plans for the site in 2020 as part of the ongoing Stephenson Quarter regeneration.

The course of the project has taken in the pandemic, and original contractor Tolent going bust, with Robertson stepping in last year, delivering the project in the face of inflation and soaring build costs across the industry.

Funding from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership to tackle the building’s structural deterioration and from Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions have been critical to the project’s success, the partners said.

Cabinet member for a thriving city and inclusive economy, Cllr Alex Hay, said: “I am delighted that The Pattern Shop project is now complete. It’s wonderful to see a building so important to Newcastle’s history being reborn for clean, green businesses that will create the next generation of good quality jobs.

“This complements the council’s priority to create an economy in Newcastle that is inclusive, so everyone has the opportunity to make something of their lives and have a stake in the city’s success.

“The project has had its fair share of challenges, but this fascinating building is testament to the determination and hard work of the council and its partners bringing it back to life and ensuring it continues to be a place for pioneers and innovators for the next 100 years.”

The Pattern Shop has been converted sympathetically with emphasis on retaining as many original features as possible, including the cast iron pillars in the Engine Hall, large arched windows, floorboards, and roof timbers which date back to Stephenson’s day.

Preserving key features has also ensured that 98% of waste from the conversion works has been diverted from landfill.

The total cost of the project is £9m, and when fully occupied the 32,367 sq ft building is expected to house 200 workers. Parts of the building have views of the Tyne bridge and river, and in time landscaping will be added.

Joe Broadley, development director at igloo Regeneration said: “Newcastle City Council and the project team have done a great job of keeping The Pattern Shop project on track and it’s testament to their tenacity and commitment to the partnership that we’re seeing this iconic building reach completion.

“The Pattern Shop is the first of a collection of buildings and connecting spaces that we are delivering within the Stephenson Quarter, in partnership with the council. Our reputation has been forged by creating places that are good for people, great for the environment and local communities and The Pattern Shop builds on our work over many years in the North East, including award-winning developments in Ouseburn which is now a buzzing and beautiful place.

“We’re looking forward to the whole neighbourhood surrounding The Pattern Shop once again thriving in a beautiful setting worthy of the pioneers who first put the place on the map.”

Garry Hope, regional managing director of Robertson Construction North East, said: “Repurposing and regenerating The Pattern Shop is testimony to the Council and igloo’s commitment to preserving and reinvigorating a part of the city so important in the industrial revolution. The building now stands ready to fuel innovation and economic growth for generations to come.

“The project presented the Council and igloo with challenges which we have been able to address.

“We’ve worked hard to preserve original features in the building while making sure it meets the needs of modern-day users. In addition to the Grade A office benefiting the city, we also delivered a range of long-lasting social value initiatives as part of the project.

“We look forward to the next line of innovators and creatives who will use this historical space.”

The Pattern Shop sits on 4.3 acres of brownfield land within the Stephenson Quarter behind the Central Station. Around 2,000 jobs are the ultimate goal across the quarter’s development plots. The Pioneer, a 100,000 sq ft grade A office, is in the works, awaiting pre-lets before construction can begin.

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