Clegg - Newcastle Should Emulate Berlin

26 November 2014, 17:18 | Updated: 26 November 2014, 17:19

Nick Clegg has urged northern cities like Newcastle to emulate Berlin by throwing open empty buildings and unused land to artists and entrepreneurs.

Pop-up shops, start-up businesses and charities will be able to takeover vacant buildings temporarily under a project to revitalise areas announced by the Deputy Prime Minister during a visit to the German capital.

Disused cinemas, post offices, old schools and market halls will be matched up with users by councils and land-owners to help stop areas becoming blighted, he said.

Mr Clegg visited the Betahaus project in Berlin that offers derelict land and property in the city centre as work space and said he wants to see how the Britain can mirror its success in the north.

He said:
``Leaving useful land in the north to languish is not only bad for business, it can hamper the success of an area in so many ways. Which is why I want to see empty buildings brought back to life and back in business.

``We need to understand what stands in the way of some of the most incredible space in the country being used, and make things more flexible so that we can fill these buildings with artists, start-ups, and other entrepreneurs to restore the buildings' purpose and appeal.''

The north of England has nearly twice as many hectares of previously developed vacant land and buildings as the south and Mr Clegg is setting up a working group of councils, businesses and charities, to report back in January about bringing sites across Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle back into use.