This paper interprets the development of residential accommodation in Newcastle upon Tyne’s city centre as a complex, layered phenomenon. Provision of such accommodation has a longer history than is usually recognised. We trace the evolution of residential development schemes and illustrate the wide range of initiatives and actor groups involved. It is demonstrated that public support (including the third sector) has been the principal driver over a considerable period of time. Furthermore, the strategic role of the local authority has been central to the process. Without its policy commitment and strategic overview, partnerships and funding would not have been as fully developed. This calls into question the concept of re-urbanisation as some kind of ‘natural’ phase in an urban development cycle. However, the current financial climate does not bode well for the continuation of this role. Whilst the gradual emergence of private sector initiatives is demonstrated, it is clear that this has been somewhat slow and reluctant and its sustainable future remains questionable.