6 January 2020

Over three years Home Group worked hard to regenerate this area of Gateshead to create a new, thriving community.

Project Timeline

Work began in 2015 with completion in December 2018

The project

Saltwell Road West is one of the first developments delivered by Gateshead Regeneration Partnership, an ambitious and transformational housing project which will provide 2,400 new homes across 19 sites in Gateshead.

99 uniquely styled terraced family homes have been developed, with 76 for outright sale, 5 for shared ownership and 18 for affordable rent. This exciting regeneration has revitalised the neighbourhood, through innovative design, high quality build and community involvement.


Before its transformation this well-established area of Gateshead had been in decline and unemployment was high. Families were starting to move out to other areas because of the unattractive, run-down neighbourhood which had a lack of housing choice. Furthermore, the site had challenges with financial viability due to its planning history, topography, service routes, proximity to the East Coast Mainline Rail network and a mineshaft.

The solution: place making, design excellence and long-term investment.


Places: how we positively contribute to physical, social and community infrastructure in places.

Families are delighted with our high spec, bespoke new homes that have replaced Saltwell’s former worn and faded terraced properties. Designed by one of the UK’s leading residential architects (Red Box Design/Studio Egret West/Studio 333), with high quality and choice offered, these in-demand homes provide great choice for families looking to stay within the area. Their popularity has secured the best possible sales prices, generating profits to be reinvested into future regeneration of places under GRP.

The old cramped and outdated properties have been replaced by modern three and four bedroom terraces with gardens, filled with light, space and energy-saving features. Great care has been taken in the houses close to the railway to manage sound levels and fresh air circulation, with the introduction of triple glazing and mechanical heat recovery systems. The scheme is truly tenure blind, all residents enjoy the same high standard and home features, whether living in affordable rented, shared ownership, or privately-owned properties.

Innovative design and careful attention to site layout has been instrumental in overcoming the many topographical issues with this site. Mineshafts from former coal working presented a potential structural risk which has been removed by locating parking in this area.

People: how we work with individuals and communities to build resilience and drive local change.

Community engagement has been at the heart of Saltwell Road West’s transformation. Residents and local businesses were actively encouraged to share ideas and views of what was important to them, from the very early planning stages. Their involvement in shaping their new neighbourhood has been integral to the success of the scheme.

This sense of cultural identity and ‘ownership’ of their new surroundings doesn’t stop there. Bright and colourful public art is revitalising the area, diminishing the dull, depressed, industrial feel of old and providing an attractive screen to the area bordering the railway. School children’s creativity is brought to life in hoardings and on Christmas cards sent to local residents to inspire and engage them in the visual transformation of their neighbourhood.

All homes have a private garden, as well as access to shared landscaped gardens, encouraging residents to enjoy time outdoors together too. Here it really is about community and new friendships, with neighbours able to reshape their communal gardens, introducing barbecues, vegetable patches or other new features to make it their own.

Local people and apprentices have been employed in the regeneration work, improving life chances and financial resilience, whilst also providing a much-needed boost to the local economy.

Funding for culture and the arts has also supported placemaking. A local artist has been employed to create sculptures that reflect the pre-industrial history of the area that will soften the former hard landscape.

: how we work with partners (local authorities, national government, community and voluntary organisations, universities, etc.) to make a difference locally.

Like many northern towns and cities, one of the challenges in Gateshead is the redevelopment of brownfield land due to issues of viability. In the former market renewal area, this was particularly acute and, at a time when gap funding was uncertain, the council recognised that a different solution was needed to ensure cleared sites would be developed for quality, affordable, family homes and not left derelict.

Working with the council and regional partners, a model where viable sites cross-subsidised unviable ones was created. Packaging up the sites in this way overcame the viability gap.

At a more local level, we are involved in brokering with local organisations and initiatives available and signposting customers so they can get the assistance required.

Working in conjunction with social services, police, mental health services and carers, we are able to offer a customer service which is fitting to our customer’s needs.

Housing associations
: our unique role as anchor institutions and how we organise ourselves to maximise our local impact.

Home Group, as a charity with a social mission, is committed to improving our communities by regeneration and closely links to our recently developed customer promise. Our approach aims to empower our customers.

Home Group is able to take a much more longer term view on making regeneration successful rather than a more shorter term view of the private sector. As a result we look at other added social value benefits that can be generated. Social value ranges from great housing and support; giving residents a voice; supporting skills and employment, developing strong social and community bonds, design that ensures a safer neighbourhood, promoting health and wellbeing and supporting financial inclusion.

If you did this again, what would you change?

  • Allowing for greater flexibility for additional sites to be added in, and a parallel focus on meeting housing needs with specialist housing or a more commercial product.
  • The development achieves Code for Sustainable Homes level 4 as well as Lifetime Homes and Secured by Design. The key to success in any future scheme is to ensure environmental and design concepts are incorporated from inception.

What can others learn from this example?

Place making and community engagement are critical to success.

The community has been at the heart of the process, with 50 people undergoing an urban design course, before helping to identify prospective partners and developing master plans for their locality. They visited several locations to view architectural designs and estate layouts, then had the opportunity to put forward ideas. Residents felt a sense of pride to see the finished houses, knowing that they had played an essential part in the design process. Around 150 others became Street Representatives, to ensure local views were heard. This helped create a sense of local ownership and enjoyment in participating.

In addition the following can be drawn out as good practice and key lessons to share with the sector with:

- A mechanism for quick disposal and delivery of homes.
- No cash investment or gap funding from the council – only land assets.
- Sharing of risk and reward between partners, and sharing of profits.
- Drawing on house building expertise from a significant national company with an established presence.
- Guaranteed sale of affordable homes to Home Group.
- Agreement that a minimum of 25% employees, and 25% of apprenticeship and work placements will be from the local area.
- Agreement that a minimum of 25% of contract value will be spent within Gateshead.
- An ongoing plan for community facilities and amenities to deliver long-term regeneration objectives, including working with schools and Gateshead College.

For more information contact Simon Williams on Simon.Williams@homegroup.org.uk

Gateshead Regeneration Partnership