Bale bars and multi-million pound investments – How Newcastle city center changed in 2021

It has been a year of change in Newcastle city center.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, it has been heartening to see new stores, restaurants and businesses investing in the city we love.

Newcastle’s nightlife was boosted significantly when the North East’s leisure operator, the Apartment Group, invested £ 3million to open four new bars on Collingwood Street.

A staggering £ 1million was spent on the city’s first ball bar, Howlers, which opened in the former Madame Koo Hall on the Diamond Strip in October.

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Meanwhile, Florita’s old bar turned into Chachauka, and two new venues, La Fee and Verano, opened in what was the House of Smith nightclub a few weeks later.

2021 also saw the opening of Newcastle’s “superclub”, The Lofts, at the former Tiger Tiger site, with a capacity of 1,500 people.

The city’s shopping scene has also welcomed new faces as department stores have moved to prime locations.

TO FINISH. Clothing opened a new flagship store in a historic Grade II listed building on Gray Street in December, which once housed Byron Burger. The original store on Grainger Street will remain open as an “archival sales store” until early 2022.

Shoppers will have noticed changes on Northumberland Street, as the old Currys PC World unit was taken over by The Vintage Store, selling thousands of pre-loved pieces of clothing.

H&M moved from its historic base on the same street and moved into Dorothy Perkins’ former unit inside Eldon Square.



The Howlers Ball Bar opened on Collingwood Street, Newcastle, as part of a £ 3million investment.

And there have been changes on Blackett Street as the former Molton Brown store became the home of famous sportswear brand Castore, the kit supplier to Newcastle United.

Food lovers were quick to try a number of new restaurants, including the Spanish tapas restaurant Cafe Andaluz, which opened in former Carluccio’s on Gray Street.

The iconic street has also welcomed a host of new faces, including Yo Sushi and Indian restaurant Ayla, which opened in the former Tandoori Nights restaurant.

The Bigg Market hosted the New York bar and restaurant Twenty Twenty; the popular Pure Knead bakery opened on Dean Street; and the gourmet kebab chain, German Doner Kebab, launched on Newgate Street.

The new Jollibee Fried Chicken Restaurant, which opened on Northumberland Street in early November, was one of the city’s most popular new chains for the past 12 months, with crowds of people lining up as early as 5:45 a.m. for enter.

One of the city’s biggest transformations over the past year has been the regeneration of the Bigg Market.



The Bigg Market has undergone a £ 3million regeneration to revive the area.
The Bigg Market has undergone a £ 3million regeneration to revive the area.

NE1, Newcastle City Council and its partners have spent eight years planning and carrying out work to revive the neighborhood.

Over £ 3million was spent on the project thanks to a £ 1.6million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which transformed the look of the area with new seating, lighting and trees.

The facades of historic buildings were restored, including Kafeneon and Meat: Stack, and a number of businesses expanded with outdoor seating, which proved extremely popular during coronavirus restrictions.

Michelle Percy, director of Place at Newcastle City Council, was delighted to see so much investment in the city.

She said: “They are investing in our strategic vision.

“It always comes down to leadership and vision, our long-term vision, and I think we’ve made that clear.

“I’m really proud of this, [it shows] We have to do something right.

“We have to be careful not to become complacent.

“We still have to deliver, bring in the jobs and look to our horizon for the future.”



Looking to the future, the city’s beloved Grainger Market is set to undergo renovations after securing funding from the Government Upgrade Fund this year.

The council said work on the Grainger Marketplace would make it a “retail destination to compete with the best European markets.”

“[It’s about] making sure that this listed building is fully operational and making sure that we have a real connection between the old and the new and that it is a destination, ”said Michelle.

“To make the Newcastle brand even more popular because you can come shopping and have that experience at the same time.”

Ministers also approved a bid to modernize Old Eldon Square, which the council said could become an “elegant civic space with fountains, cafes and bars”.

Meanwhile, more than 9,000 HMRC employees are set to leave their current bases in Longbenton and Washington for Pilgrim’s Quarter, a nine-story office building on the site of the former Odeon Cinema, which currently houses the STACK. Staff are expected to complete the move by 2027.

Michelle said: “It feels like we have an opportunity to grow over the next five years, create jobs, expand our housing supply and start to really deliver.”

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About James K. Bonnette

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