The Bigg Market in Newcastle is of significant historical importance and dates to the middle ages. It was the site of a thriving marketplace along the Great North Road that ran from London to Scotland. Alongside are the Cloth Market and Groat Market with the area being located close to Newcastle Cathedral.
The redevelopment project to restore this historic urban core of Newcastle is the result of a successful bid, by the regional business improvement company NE1 Ltd, to the Heritage Lottery Funding for £1.6 million. Additional funds were matched by NE1 Ltd, Newcastle City Council and property owners. After a close-run tender process, and due to a demonstrated track record in the restoration of city centre facades and landscapes, Historic Property Restoration were selected as the preferred contractor for the £2.5M project.
The actual restoration of the Bigg Market itself was city centre public realm works consisting of hard landscaping, streetlighting, retaining walls and street furniture. In addition, facades of 15 properties including shopfronts and the later part of the scheme was the conversion of the public toilets at the bottom of the Bigg Market into a chic city centre micro wine bar.
Due to the City centre location, protection of the general public and facilitating and maintaining safe access to the properties, shops and business surrounding the immediate work area presented one of the more significant challenges on the project. Consideration was always given to alternative access routes to premises and maintaining access.
Shop front installation was carefully planned with each occupier, a sequenced programme with temporary access measures was prepared requiring approval of each of the site occupiers prior to works commencing. Safe corridors were always created to allow the general public access to local business and premises with the maximum width being available.
On the 6th February 2020 the Bigg Market project team were named winners on the Landscape category of the Lord Mayors Design Awards 2019. The judges were particularly impressed that the design team showed a commitment to retaining the mature trees in the Bigg Market where possible, and to enhancing the views towards the Cathedral and Castle. The Bigg Market is now open and accessible to all members of the public and surrounding areas of developments are being discussed to continue the restoration of the city centre.