In 2013, two forces of the property industry formed a partnership - Urban Splash and Places for People. This new collaboration would see transformation of Brownfield land starting at Smith’s Dock in North Shields.
Smith’s Dock is a former ship repair yard overlooking the River Tyne in North Shields. Steeped in heritage, the dock dates from the 1850s; it thrived for more than a century, welcoming some of the world’s biggest ships before sadly closing in the late 1980s. Places for People acquired the site a decade ago, with a vision to transform and turn it into a new, contemporary community where people can live, work and play.
At the point of acquisition, Places for People invested an initial £20m to remediate the site and develop its infrastructure to ensure it was ready for future development, including an investment into the neighbouring North Shields ferry terminal that saw a new passenger landing and facilities.
By 2014, with the site works complete, Places for People formalised its JV with Urban Splash and together the pair evolved detailed plans. Key components of the overall masterplan include more than 800 homes of mixed tenure –ensuring that upon completion, a range of people can live there – as well as vast places to play, meaning anyone can find somewhere to be outside and enjoy life at Smith’s Dock.
A decision was made to retain three original dock inlets as a focal point of the plans – an ongoing symbol to the site’s heritage.
How has it made a promising start on the journey to completion?
In May 2017, the first homes became a reality with the launch of 24 modular Town Houses, created offsite and offering 1500 sq ft of living space over three floors - customers benefit from fantastic space standards, high ceilings, big windows and opportunity to customise layouts and finishes. All have now sold and fully occupied.
Later that year, 10 modular FAB Houses launched, designed by TV architect George Clarke, and in 2018, 80 Smokehouses waterfront apartments were launched for sale offering incredible views of the Tyne. Many are sold with residents moving in, following completion of the building this spring. The first commercial amenity is set to launch - a restaurant on the Smokehouses ground floor – creating 15 jobs for locals and headed up by renowned local chef.
This development cannot be underestimated; its fortunes have been radically transformed meaning 30-acres of disused land is being brought back to life. Memories of the local community, which span over 100 years, are being preserved.
Upon completion, it will become an important waterfront stretch of land connecting communities of Royal Quays in the South and Fish Quay to the North; the proximity of Fish Quay – where so many former Smith’s Dock workers now live – means the community there are already greatly involved in its next chapter. It will also connect the Coast-to-Coast Cycle Route.
Ultimately, Smith’s Dock is an exciting community and a bold development which will grow and become of great interest in the North East and beyond.
What initiatives have contributed to this new place?
The local community was, and continues to be, consulted and positively engaged with throughout the creation of Smith’s Dock. Local residents have a great affinity with the site, with nostalgic relationships which cannot, and have not, been underestimated.
It is something which has seen the JV engage with community groups from day 1 – groups such as the Old Lowlight centre – ensuring that none of the heritage of the area was lost and that the prevalent history would be intrinsic to the plans. This is evident in the site aesthetics which celebrate much of Smith’s Dock’s maritime past. The JV also recently engaged with the local fishermen’s community, helping to fund a lasting memorial to lost fishermen which stands at Fish Quay.
Even launch events have transcended stale, sales events, instead they have been a celebration of the rebirth of this area; at our maiden launch, more than 500 local people attended to visit dedicated heritage pop-up exhibitions that the JV had created to remind people just how important this site is and will continue to be.