Council backs £2.3m Newcastle street food market plan to transform area used as 'open toilet'

How Princess Square in Newcastle could look if turned into a new street food market.
How Princess Square in Newcastle could look if turned into a new street food market. -Credit:Newcastle Street Food via Newcastle City Council.

Councillors have backed £2.3 million plans for a new street food market to transform a corner of Newcastle city centre that is plagued by anti-social behaviour and drug dealing.

Newcastle City Council has approved a licence for a new venue bidding to move into Princess Square and a section of the Pearl building, despite fears from neighbours. Proposals for the ‘Newcastle Street Food’ development, which is based on a concept already operating in Edinburgh, were presented to a licensing panel last week – with promises that the “bleak” square would be turned into a foodie paradise.

Developers behind the project pledged that bringing a collection of some of the North East’s best cuisine to the area would help rid it of its reputation as an “open toilet” and sought to reassure nearby residents that it will not be a replication of the Stack shipping container village, which was the subject of noise complaints from occupants of the Bewick Court flats. Objecting neighbours claimed that the market could have a “significant” negative impact on their lives, but the local authority’s licensing sub-committee has opted to approve the licence.

It said: “It was agreed by all interested parties that Princess Square is an area of the city centre which has fallen into disrepair. Furthermore, all parties agreed that the area currently suffers from a variety of crime and antisocial behaviour issues, such as drug dealing, shouting and urinating in public. However, the area of disagreement is that the residents and ward councillors argue that were this application to be granted it would not only exacerbate these issues but add to the negative impact already felt in the area, particularly regarding public nuisance and excessive noise.”

The committee added: “Having heard and read the evidence before it, committee concluded that the application would promote all licensing objectives but furthermore, that it would lead to a reduction in the crime and disorder issues felt in the area. Committee accepted the submissions that the presence of the premises itself would act as a deterrent for such behaviours, as it could no longer be used as a thoroughfare in the same manner described and the use of CCTV cameras (imposed by way of condition), as well as staff and patrons being physically present would all deter and displace the crime and disorder described by the interested parties.”

The development must still secure planning permission from the city council before it can go ahead, but licensing lawyer Richard Arnot told the committee last week that it could open in 2025. Under its new licence, Newcastle Street Food would be able to open until 11pm during the week and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays – though its outdoor seating area will have to close at 10pm.