More than £2m of new funding has been put towards a major redesign of Newcastle’s Central Station.

North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) chiefs signed off on a £2.5m boost for the long-planned upgrades in and around the station on Tuesday. The next stage of a proposed revamp of the transport hub, designs for which were first unveiled almost five years ago, include opening a new entrance on Neville Street and removing the taxi rank from the Orchard Street tunnel to create a new pedestrian route towards the Stephenson Quarter.

An initial phase of development to open up a new western entrance to the station opposite the Centre for Life remains ongoing. That work, funded through a £4m award from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in 2019, was left in limbo when construction firm Tolent went into administration earlier this year but has since been taken over by builders Robertson.

The future works at the station, which it is hoped will be completed by March 2025, include:

  • A full pedestrianisation of the Orchard Street tunnel, moving the existing taxi rank to the front of the station;
  • Building a new station entrance on Neville Street, where the Enterprise car rental is currently located;
  • An upgrade to Forth Street tunnel and enabling works for a new pedestrian and cycle ‘Highline’, connecting Central Station and Forth Yards area to the west of the city centre.

Carl Johnson, the deputy mayor of North Tyneside and a member of the NTCA cabinet, told a meeting on Tuesday afternoon that the changes would make the station and its surroundings a “more attractive” environment for passengers. A report added: “These changes will improve access to this key public transport link, reducing journey times and improving public realm and the attractiveness of pedestrian routes – and complementing other investments in the station, including from the North East LEP.”

The NTCA’s financial contribution to the project, which was first announced by Newcastle City Council in February 2019, comes from a £10m pot set aside last year to help maximise the impact of the Northumberland Line for communities and businesses once it reopens.

Passenger trains are due to return to that railway line, which runs from Ashington to Central Station, next year – with stops at Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, and Bedlington. The NTCA has also put £5m towards replacing a level crossing at Newsham with a road bridge, while plans are also in the works for investment in Ashington’s Wansbeck Square.

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