This case study of Newcastle and Gateshead offers a clear example of successful transformation from coal city to culture city, underpinned by a dynamic form of urban entrepreneurship. Their experience is discussed in terms of mapping the contours of the next stage of the urban renewal agenda. Three issues stand out:
- The need to invest in diversity as a way of breaking the ‘buzz to bland’ cycle, whereby successful regeneration is rapidly followed by homogenisation.
- The importance of inclusion and everyday participation as a way of ensuring opportunities and benefits are spread across the entire community.
- The need to be serious about long-term sustainability, rather than quick fixes.
Soul is not something that can be easily captured by conventional indicators or economic datasets. To experience the soul of a city, you need to get out into the streets and talk to people. And so this is what we did – through focus groups, interviews with councillors and community representatives, and by spending time walking around the contrasting districts of Newcastle and Gateshead. This report presents the results of our journey, our experience of
northern soul, and presents new evidence that it is this soul – or quality of place – that is helping to generate a new brain gain for Newcastle and Gateshead, as creative people are attracted to it.