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A future for all our pasts

Helping our members save the UK’s heritage assets.

Case Study

The Ouseburn Trust: Valley Venues & Vibrant Visions

Red brick industrial buildings next to a river bank and a road in the Ouseburn Valley.

Members Projects in the Spotlight

The Ouseburn Trust

The independent charity words towards a vibrant, diverse, and sustainable future for Newcastle upon Tyne’s Ouseburn Valley. The Ouseburn Trust’s work demonstrates the importance of collaborating with local communities to achieve ambitious heritage-led regeneration. By building a shared collective vision for the area, its approach has saved numerous buildings in the area and attracted new residents, businesses, and visitors over the last 50 years.

In 1993, fire damage to the former Maynards Toffee Factory and other threats to built heritage in the Ouseburn Valley, highlighted the need for a local development trust. Two years later, Ouseburn Trust was formed.

Unable to achieve its ambitious aims single-handedly, the Trust works in partnership with businesses, volunteers, and council to develop a shared vision. This enhances the socio-economic environment whilst promoting and preserving the area’s rich heritage. Ouseburn Trust invites members and the public to join its subgroups consulting on planning and development, the environment, transport and heritage.

Unable to achieve its ambitious aims single-handedly, the Trust works in partnership with businesses, volunteers, and council to develop a shared vision.

The Ouseburn Valley

In the 1970s, the Ouseburn Valley had an uncertain future. The old industrial area was in decline and many buildings faced demolition. Initially, creative groups and not- for-profit organisations bought buildings, renting studio spaces to artists and a theatre. Towards the end of the 1980s, residents became more actively involved in engaging with building proposals and what their future uses would be through initiatives including the Ouseburn Project and East Quayside Group. More buildings were renovated by private investors in the area, with offices, studios, a pub, and even an urban riding school opening.

After its formation, Ouseburn Trust led the Ouseburn Partnership with Newcastle City Council to secure a £2.5 million regeneration budget. The Partnership renovated buildings to create affordable housing, office spaces and studios. It also supported projects which attracted new audiences to the area, including the annual Ouseburn Festival and The Cluny, a venue and arts space.

When the regeneration funding ended, Ouseburn Trust was left with a property portfolio to manage. This gave the Trust a sustainable income, enabling it to provide affordable housing and studio spaces, keeping the mixed- use character of the area.

In 2006, Newcastle City Council, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, restored part of the Victoria Tunnel (a preserved 18th-century wagonway) and opened it to the public. When the funding ran out in 2011, its management was handed over to Ouseburn Trust. Tours are still run predominantly by volunteers, keeping running costs to a minimum, and a low-cost schools programme has been introduced. This allows the Tunnel to be self-sustaining.

The Project

The Trust is currently renovating a disused industrial warehouse at 51 Lime Street. With a proven funding model and income stream, it has been able to take out a mortgage to cover the works instead of relying on external funding. The space will be multi-functional, providing new offices for the Trust, co-working, business and events space, a heritage exhibition celebrating the Ouseburn Valley, and a shop selling locally-made artisan products. The mixed-use building will generate income and offer a new cultural space at the valley’s centre.

The Future

The valley is home to many green spaces and diverse habitats. Roe deer can even be spotted under the bridges throughout the summer, and members of the public have expressed how much they value these areas of natural re-wilding. There is a problem with fly-tipping and littering in the area, and the Trust would like to do more to celebrate and encourage nature whilst combating this activity. To support this work, funding has been secured for a new Natural Environment Project Officer to look at volunteering and corporate volunteering roles.

Arches of two bridges, one in red brick and one in concrete. Underneath are large green spaces, trees and a few people enjoying the great outdoors.

Further information

A view down a street in the Ouseburn Valley with regenerated industrial buildings lining one side and a thick blanket of trees on the other.

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