A new food, drink, and entertainment venue in the style of the popular Stack could open in Newcastle city centre next summer.

Just a stone’s throw away from the now dismantled shipping container village, developers are hoping to transform a run-down building into an exciting new venture.

The plans, which came before city councillors on Monday morning, would see the Worswick Chambers building in Pilgrim Street undergo a multi-million pound renovation into a major new leisure site.

If Newcastle City Council agrees to grant a premises licence for the proposed venue, the listed building could become home to a collection of new bars, food stalls, and an entertainment plaza opening in summer 2023 – though there have been complaints that Stack was a “living nightmare” for its neighbours.

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Applicants Anson House 9 Ltd, led by Stack boss Neil Winch, are set to take a 20-year lease on the site, which is part of the huge regeneration of Pilgrim Street being driven by the Reuben Brothers.

Members of the council’s licensing sub-committee were told at a hearing on Monday that the proposals did not constitute a direct relocation of Stack and that it would be a permanent fixture in the city centre, rather than being temporary shipping containers, but that there are many similarities between the two.

The Northern Echo: Stack closed for the final time in May to the disappointed of frequent partygoers. Picture: FREELANCERStack closed for the final time in May to the disappointed of frequent partygoers. Picture: FREELANCER (Image: NQ STAFF)

Barrister Charles Holland said that Stack, which closed for the final time in May to make way for construction of a new HMRC office headquarters, was a “successful and much admired venue” that “managed to pull off the feat of being large but intimate, and was trouble-free”.

He said the new site hoped to replicate and improve on many of its key features – including a “relaxed atmosphere”, no charge for entry, a wide mix of food vendors, and free entertainment.

Designs for the site show that it would be split across three floors – with eight bars, seven food stands, two function rooms, a coffee shop, and other retail units surrounding a central courtyard with a stage and big screen.

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Mr Holland added that “many millions of pounds” would be spent to breathe new life into the 1800s building, which sits next to the Bank House office block being built on the old Bank of England site and across the road from the old fire station, and that the venue would directly employ 140 people – with another 40 jobs from the various vendors.

He said: “I have lived in the city for 25 years and it [Worswick Chambers] has been pretty run down for the entirety of that. The site is well overdue for improvement, smartening up, and development.”

The venue would operate until 2am under the plans submitted to the council and Mr Holland said it would be required not to cause a nuisance either to the offices next door or to guests of the five-star hotel due to open at the fire station.t

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But, ahead of the hearing, city centre councillor Jane Byrne complained that bosses “completely failed” to keep noise under control at Stack and caused “huge problems” for residents of nearby Bewick Court.

She added: “Given their track record I do not think the applicant can be trusted to adhere to conditions.”

One Bewick Court resident who objected to the new scheme said that Stack had been “nothing short of a living nightmare” and urged the council not to endorse “Stack coming back bigger, louder, and more obnoxious than before”.

Mr Holland denied the accusations, which he said were “hyperbolic” and not backed up by evidence, and insisted that Stack bosses had “frequent” communication with nearby residents that did lead to its sound systems being adjusted as a result.

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Concerns were also raised by city community safety chiefs about a lack of street lighting and taxi infrastructure and the resulting danger for women in what is currently a relatively quiet part of the city centre.

If the licence is approved by the council, a decision due to be made public within five working days, then the local authority’s environmental health department is set to have a “veto” over the scheme as it must separately approve a noise management plan for it – details of which are being put on hold for now given the rapidly-changing scale of development around Pilgrim Street.

Planning permission for the development, which includes a part-demolition and refurbishment of Worswick Chambers as well as two new office buildings and a car park, was granted last October.


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