Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Residents Win Revamp Battle; BOOST FOR ICONIC BUILDING LEFT EMPTY FOR A DECADE

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Residents Win Revamp Battle; BOOST FOR ICONIC BUILDING LEFT EMPTY FOR A DECADE

Article excerpt

Byline: AMY HUNT

A CONTROVERSIAL building that had been earmarked for demolition is to be revamped after a 12-year fight by residents.

The row over the possible flattening of Bolam Coyne, part of the Byker estate, in the 1990s, led to the Byker Wall being listed by English Heritage.

A strange-looking construction containing 17 flats and boasting an entrance drawbridge, Bolam Coyne, on Raby Street, has been empty for more than 10 years.

Designed, along with the rest of the estate, by architect Ralph Erskine and built in the 1970s, Bolam Coyne was plagued by bad behaviour among its tenants, becoming vandalised and derelict when it became impossible to rent out the flats.

So in 1999 Newcastle City Council recommended knocking the complex down and replacing it with a car park.

But the council had not counted on a group of residents' desire to preserve the building as an important piece of architecture. The uproar led to English Heritage giving the entire Byker Wall estate Grade II-listing in 2007, preventing any of it from being demolished. Now Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) has been offered a cash grant by the Government to renovate Bolam Coyne and bring it back into use for the first time in a decade.

It has started a tender process to find a developer to do the work.

YHN is working with Newcastle City Council planners, English Heritage and Mike Drage, who was one of the original architects involved in the Byker estate in the 1970s. He has been charged with drawing up guidance for developers on how to complete the refurbishment in keeping with Erskine's original vision for the estate.

The proposal is to create fewer but bigger flats, with two or three bedrooms, which are geared towards families.

John Lee, chief executive of YHN, said: "Bolam Coyne is one of the most imaginative and remarkable single developments within the Byker estate. …

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