Australian developer Multiplex has completed a key site purchase in Newcastle, bringing its dream of an 800,000 sq ft (76,500 sq m) retail scheme closer to fruition.

Multiplex is understood to have bought the city's fire station site, and now controls almost all of the land to the east of Pilgrim Street in the city centre.

Neither Multiplex nor Newcastle City Council were able to confirm the details. However, sketches of Sir Terry Farrell's masterplan for the site, obtained by Retail Week, show an ambi-tious scheme that would form a natural extension to the prime Northumberland Street pitch.

A planning application has not yet been lodged with Newcastle City Council, but Farrell's design takes the form of an open-air mall running diagonally across the site from a new public square in front of Newcastle's city library, culminating in a new department store at the southern end.

This building will dominate the approach to Newcastle across the Tyne and could support a landmark mall. The masterplan shows an organic building reminiscent of Selfridges in Birmingham.

Multiplex acquired the development as part of its takeover of Chelsfield last year. However, the scheme is understood to have moved up the corporate agenda under the new owner, which sees it as a flagship project for its construction business in the north of England.