Urban Living Partnership - Newcastle and Gateshead City Region

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Architecture Planning and Landscape


The Urban Living Partnership pilot phase in Newcastle and Gateshead will diagnose the complex and interdependent challenges within the urban region, working collaboratively to co-design and implement initiatives and solutions in order to contribute to the life and development of the area. Led by Newcastle University and featuring project partners from across the Quadruple Helix model from government, industry, academia and civil society, we will form the Newcastle City Futures Unit and implement an inter-disciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to the initial 18 month pilot project, allowing us to synoptically approach challenges and develop a platform for innovative urban solutions.

As a post-industrial urban area with more than 381,100 citizens, Newcastle and Gateshead form the heart of a contiguous urban conurbation of over 1 million people. We are a region facing numerous challenges, and perform below average on a number of socio-economic factors such as economic activity, educational attainment and health. Our pilot phase work will look to identify specific issues around these and other challenges, framed through our themes of "Ageing", Sustainability" and "Social Renewal", which have been identified previously as areas of particular significance for the city region.

Newcastle and Gateshead provide the perfect platform to establish this pilot project, based on the success of the Newcastle City Futures 2065 project which was part of the UK Foresight Future of Cities programme. This work initiated collaborative working between HEIs and local authorities in the area in order to address long term complex city problems beyond traditional disciplines and sectors in order to reflect the complex government and organisational environment that is a hallmark of 21st century cities. This project acted as an urban incubator to identify themes through scenarios and Delphi methods which built on the existing assets of the city region to achieve innovation through research, policy development and demonstrator projects. The themes identified through this work were "the age friendly city", "the sustainable city", "the creative city" and "the science city", and along with evidence of a need for more detailed work to understand the drivers of change affecting cities. The work also identified the need for support for new digital platforms in order to exchange data across sectors, multifunctional demonstrator projects which offer innovative solutions to problems and opportunities across all sectors, as well as support for visualisation of long-term scenarios by bringing together expertise in areas such as computing, mapping, spatial analysis and urban planning. The Newcastle City Futures Unit will build on this, to establish an urban accelerator, to co-produce and collaboratively design practical solutions and policy recommendations in order to drive the future policy agenda and shape deliverable demonstration and innovation projects within Newcastle and Gateshead.

An array of methods will be utilised across the duration of the project, including foresight futures methodologies such as Delphi surveys, scenario building and systems analysis work to help representatives from HEIs, businesses and civil society to identifying long term challenges in the city region and to create a vision for the future of the cities that can be replicated elsewhere. Visualisation techniques will also be implemented combining expertise in computing, mapping, spatial analysis and urban planning, with consortium partners facilitating identification of suitable case studies for the work.

Through the work outlined above, the Newcastle City Futures Unit will build capacity amongst a wide range of stakeholders to realise communities of practice that are futures oriented and make a measurable difference to the cities and their citizens.

Planned Impact

The Urban Living Partnership in Newcastle and Gateshead will have impact upon a wide range of stakeholders. The consortium acknowledges that a lot of the impact will not become apparent until the key challenges in the urban area are diagnosed. However, it is clear even at this stage that the project has huge potential to significantly impact a wide range of beneficiaries which are captured below.
Citizens of Newcastle and Gateshead - At the core of this pilot phase is the need to significantly contribute to the life, wellbeing and development of the citizens of Newcastle and Gateshead, by identifying key challenges currently faced by the area in order to develop a suitable approach to address current and future issues related to urban living. This will include demonstrator projects which will directly engage with and impact upon day to day activity, as well as new policy recommendations for local government to initiate, and industry-led initiatives.

Local Government - The local authorities (that are part of our project consortium) will benefit from our work on the Urban Living Partnership. Both city councils will benefit in terms of their preparatory work for the revised Joint Core Strategy beyond 2030, and the provision of intelligence into the quarterly public-facing Policy Cabinets and the Newcastle 2020 initiative. The North East LEP will also greatly benefit , especially in relation to the development of the Economic Strategy and Sustainable Urban Development Strategy for the allocation of European funds in the region. The ULP will also feed into the work of the North East Combined Authority, shaping both the proposed North East Planning Development Framework and analysis of long term trends that influence Newcastle and the wider North East. We will also feed into the "Northern Powerhouse", with regards to long term economic growth for the north and provision of transport strategies that ensure better city to city connectivity.

Industry - Our Urban Living Partnership features industry partners who will all benefit greatly from this pilot phase. These partners include IBM, Nexus, Arjuna, Intu, AECOM, Newcastle Airport, Zero Carbon Futures, Northumbrian Water, Northern Gas Networks, Northern Power Grid, the Federation of Small Businesses, NGI and Techcity. We will work with these partners to align their own project developments and investment strategies alongside the work of the ULP, to achieve more effective outputs through enhanced citizen engagement, academic research evidence and cross-sectoral collaboration. For example, we will work with Nexus on their 2030 strategy and modernization programme. . ULP will look to facilitate the co-design the internal layouts of new metro carriages that cater for societal needs and which are more sustainable, looking to develop digital app technology to crowd source public opinion and design options.

Public Services - As well as with industry partners, there will be significant impact from the work of the ULP with regards to public sector organisations such as the NHS, Newcastle Schools Network, Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service and the Quality of Life Partnership. For example, research evidence and delivery models regarding challenges/opportunities around "Ageing" will be progressed collaboratively and demonstrator projects actioned through the ULP which support the work of the Quality of Life Partnership.

As is evident in the letters of support from our project partners they are excited by the potential impact of the project and have been forward in demonstrating their investment in this work through their significant in-kind contributions which total approximately £833k. Both Newcastle and Northumbria Universities are also committed to leading innovative projects, which is emphasised in the institutional letters of support that have been submitted by both Vice-Chancellors.


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Description Finding new ways to help cities adapt to the increasing demands of their population is the focus of a pioneering project led by Newcastle University. Newcastle City Futures, the label for Newcastle and Gateshead urban living partnership pilot. is the story of how one great city is rethinking the way we rebuild local democracy and public trust to manage future change. Newcastle City Futures has been developing a radical new model of urban development to tackle complex challenges facing our cities such as: • An ageing population • Economic pressures • Congestion • Extreme weather events The project's uniqueness lies in its approach to involving everyone in the city in the development of its future. Where in the past single sectors, disciplines, agencies or businesses worked independently to provide solutions, Newcastle City Futures provides a new way to harness the creative thinking and expertise of diverse groups of people. NCF brings together experts from academia, government and public and voluntary sectors to work with citizens and industry leaders such as IBM and Engie. By taking a 'whole city' approach to problem-solving, the collaborative project brings together not only a unique body of expertise from all sectors in the city, but also a range of academic disciplines including: • Arts and humanities • Creative industries • Planning • Civil engineering • Computer sciences • Health sciences Using its partners' latest environmental monitoring, urban modelling, data analysis and visualisation tools, the project aims to establish Newcastle as a test-bed for urban innovation. It also links together the three National Innovation Centres based in Newcastle on ageing, energy and smart data. Newcastle City Futures is now scaling up its activities as an Urban Living Partnership pilots to link with our award of a HEFCE/Work Foundation/LGA funded pilot on 'Place Leadership'. Its priority themes of ageing, sustainability and social renewal reflect Newcastle University's world-class research strengths and the priority policy areas of partners Newcastle City Council, Gateshead Council and the North East LEP. The team is now identifying specific ways in which this new model can contribute to shaping the design and delivery of services and decision-making that affect people's everyday lives. Over 30 individual projects are in development, all brokered by Newcastle City Futures. These include a desire to develop: • Digitally enabled homes for an ageing society • Metro trains suitable for accessibility issues • Digital retailing and shopping streets with sustainable urban drainage • Art installations that communicate health and wellbeing messages. Funding bids to take forward these initiatives have been submitted since the ULP was initiated, including bids to Innovate UK, the Department for Transport, and Homes and Community Agency; all are demonstrator projects with direct links to the policy process in the region, and to delivery bodies. This has challenged the processes used by the two local authorities in initiating projects, partnering projects, and endorsing ideas that have emerged outside local government. Reconfiguring NCF as a coordinating platform set within a city region ecosystem of systems has led to the core partner organisations seeing the ULP as an ideas factory generating unique partnerships to shape innovative solutions; the idea is paramount, first and foremost, not a funding application. That means the innovation and partnership can withstand occasional setbacks. This also explains why bigger players are now eager to be involved - we have moved from 22 partners in June 2016 to over 50 now; it's a growing story. Digital and citizen engagement are cross cutting themes in every single project and each project has to have reps from public, private, voluntary and academic sectors involved. Each project links needs to business opportunities through a proof of concept approach, underpinned by R&D. And each project in its own way supports the delivery of public services in new and dynamic ways, while reinvigorating local democracy in more direct and transparent approaches. This could have proved to be a challenge to existing forms of local government and elected politicians in the city. So it was essential to ensure that any new civic platform had the backing of government across the city and dovetailed with ongoing debates on the future role of municipal government and policies. As part of the initiative, therefore, Newcastle City Council established a 'City Futures Development Group' within the organisational machinery as a one-stop-shop where council officials, public sector, private sector and academics could discuss long term changes, research and policy needs, and emerging projects; this group has now been joined by representatives of both Gateshead Council and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership. NCF ULP work has also been endorsed twice by government in the Future of Cities Foresight for Cities report and in the Future Cities Catapult digital and planning report, in the House of Lords Built Environment Select Committee report Building Better Places, while the an article in the regional newspaper The Chronicle written by the Federation of Small Businesses endorsement NCF to the business community. NCF has received the backing of major business organisations who were not part of the original bid partnership including Siemens, Engie and BT Strategy. Engie has now signed a MoU with Newcastle University to pursue city futures smart cities collaboration, and IBM has awarded NCF a small fund and they have now offered the university and SMEs in the region free use of their Bluemix platform as part of NCF collaboration. On the policy side, the North East Combined Authority has asked NCF to support their transport strategy preparation, including ideas for metro expansion and a freight distribution centre for Tyneside; this follows our involvement in the NE LEP new economic strategy recently published in draft form. Newcastle City Council's Working City economic development strategy draft also contains a section on Newcastle City Futures. Direct public engagement and impact has been achieved by NCF developing a partnership with Trinity Mirror Group via The Chronicle newspaper to feature a series of articles on urban change in Newcastle and Gateshead that feature photographs and imagery from the last 50 years with interviews with the NCF director discussing change, attitudes to change, through a series of unbuilt and built development story lines. Since May 2016, 14 articles have been featured with significant features through social media and public reaction and downloads.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail,Transport
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description Building Better Places
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact NCF presented to the House of Lords Built Environment Select Committee on the role of vision in place making and the role of the university and research community in providing intelligence and resources to local government. The publication of the work went some way to persuade Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council to formalise the role of the university in long term planning and intelligence work, and advisory group memberships.
URL https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201516/ldselect/ldbuilt/100/10009.htm#_idTextAnchor125
Description Foresight for Cities
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact NCF methods were cited in this Government report on future methods for cities to help long term policy making and ways to engage partners in shaping conversations on the future. The report has led to further enquiries and changed local government structures and processes to address long term decision making, including the establishment in Newcastle of a special purpose vehicle by the city council, the City Futures Development Group, as a council committee the reports to the chief executive.
Description Future Cities Catapult Digital and Planning
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in systematic reviews
Impact Ongoing dialogue on the rolling out of digital solutions to cities and planning services; the report highlights Newcastle and NCF as one of the leading UK centres for this innovative work. The result has been a more formal engagement between the research team and local authorities in the region towards digital public services.
URL http://futurecities.catapult.org.uk/2016/12/01/future-planning-state-art-innovations-digital-plannin...
Description Engie Connected Future Cities 
Organisation Engie
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Signing of a MoU by the university Vice Chancellor with the chief executive of Engie in September 2016 to develop research collaboration and project partnership in the field of connected future cities.
Collaborator Contribution Developing series of meetings to discuss shaping joint projects.
Impact Signing of an MoU
Start Year 2016
Description IBM smart cities 
Organisation IBM
Department IBM UK Ltd
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution IBM have been a member of the NCF ULP since it was initiated but have since developed the relationship. This has been achieved through a series of collaborative discussions face to face, meetings brokered by NCF with other sectors e.g. city council and LEP, and through funding routes. The latter includes Newcastle University and IBM match funding a Business Engagement Award to develop discussions and ideas on smart cities allowing access of IBM representatives to selective research material and of university researchers to IBM techniques. IBM have also offered free use of their Bluemix platform to the university, the LEP and SMEs for a trial period to manage project shaping and project management emanating from NCF.
Collaborator Contribution Ongoing discussions but this has centred on brokering introductions to other partners in the consortium.
Impact Use of the IBM Bluemix platform by Newcastle University, North East LEP and use by SMEs in the region - the latter to be managed by the Innovation Super Network team of the LEP.
Start Year 2016
Description ACCOMPLISSH H2020 Rome 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The EU Horizon 2020 ACCOMPLISSH project encompasses 14 international partners, all to engage with universities to their cities nationally and internationally through the development of new models to achieve collaboration. Newcastle University and Newcastle City Futures is one of the partners in this project and are using NCF as a test bed case study for international dissemination. The first event occurred in Rome in November 2016 and a further event is planned for Tallinn in November 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL http://www.accomplissh.eu
Description Big Draw Weekend 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact One weekend in October 2016, Newcastle City Futures with the Vital North Partnership, Newcastle University and Northumbria University took over Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books, based in Newcastle Ouseburn Valley for a weekend of Big Draw Festival activities which encouraged children and families to design and build their future city. More than 540 people visited Seven Stories and built homes, cultural, sports and science venues, businesses, hotels, transport systems, power stations and several bridges. In fact, the children organically created pretty much everything you would need in a future city. The event formed part of the 2016 STEAM Powered Big Draw Festival which aims to inspire illustrators everywhere to explore creative innovation, enterprise, digital technologies and the arts through drawing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/vitalnorth/building-a-new-city-with-newcastle-city-futures/
Description Metro Futures 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Metro futures project: Tyne and Wear Metro is one of the UK's busiest light rail systems, carrying 40 million passengers a year. But after nearly 40 years of service its train fleet will soon need to be replaced. A new train fleet will be around for decades to come and Nexus wants to ensure its design reflects the aspirations and needs of people across the community, and throughout their lives. Brokered by NCF, Nexus partnered with Newcastle University's Open Lab in autumn 2016 to work with people across Tyne and Wear to understand their needs and develop proposals for future Metrocar internal design through digital engagement, Pop up labs and an interactive website. These insights were used to build into the bid by Nexus for £350m from Department for Transport for the next fleet of trains and to inform the procurement process.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.metrofutures.org.uk