Gateshead Council’s planning committee has approved plans for the development of a £260m arena-led regeneration scheme which will see the creation of around 2,000 new jobs in the region, giving a £60m annual boost to the local economy.
The scheme, which sits on the NewcastleGateshead waterfront at Gateshead Quays, includes a world class arena, purpose built conference and exhibition centre, restaurants, a dual branded hotel and large areas of outdoor realm and performance space. It is anticipated that it will attract more than 338,000 additional visitors to the region each year.
The plans were submitted by Gateshead Council’s development partner Ask:PATRIZIA, who have appointed Sir Robert McAlpine to build the 54,500sqm scheme, designed by internationally renowned HOK Architects. Site enabling work will start before the end of the year with construction expected to commence in March 2021 and the new complex will open in 2023. An announcement on the hotel operator is expected to be made in the coming weeks.
Venue management company, ASM Global will operate the campus, which includes a 12,500 capacity, 29,000sqm arena and over 7,000sqm of flexible event space. It will host first class entertainment and sports alongside international conferences, meetings and exhibitions as well as festivals and cultural events.
Commenting on the impact the scheme will have on the region, councillor Martin Gannon, Gateshead council leader said the destination has wanted to revitalise the key site for a long time. “Our long-term aspiration has always been to bring internationally recognisable facilities of this scale to not just Gateshead but the entire region,” he said.
He described the project as “transformational”, and that the decision signals confidence in the North East. He added: “Newcastle Gateshead Quays will be a global leader in entertainment, leisure, and hospitality but most importantly it is about creating new employment and training opportunities for thousands at a time when they are badly needed.”
Paying tribute to the value of the events industry, Gannon noted: “Despite the current challenges, we need to remember the worth of the events industry. We look forward to opening the venue late 2023.”
Paul Szomoru, director of business events at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, said the “fantastic” news will raise the business events offering of the region to new heights, giving the area the opportunity to attract larger conferences with a stronger international reach.
“Having 6,300sqm of pillar free, flat floor space, along with other substantial mixed-use spaces with stunning views of our iconic Quayside, will allow us to work with organisers to host and create stunning events that live long in the memory of everyone who attends,” he said. “Combining this with our existing offer of fantastic venues, hotels and support service providers, and our business, innovation and research strengths, we truly are becoming a business events destination that will benefit the whole of the UK.”
He added that NewcastleGateshead Quays can showcase all “that North East England has to offer” and turn visiting delegates into future leisure visitors, residents and investors in the region.
Szomoru echoed councillor Gannon that the business events industry has been particularly badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Nearly all live events have been postponed or cancelled,” he said. “The announcement puts NewcastleGateshead Quays at the forefront of our economic recovery from Covid-19 – securing jobs, supporting the wider hospitality industry and allowing us to plan ahead for a time when we can welcome delegates from around the world back to the region.”
Speaking on behalf of the Ask:PATRIZIA partnership John Hughes, managing director of Ask Real Estate said: “We have worked closely with the Council and the wider stakeholders to ensure this regeneration scheme delivers maximum benefit to the wider region and will put this iconic waterfront on the map internationally. We have brought together a world-class team of designers, architects and operators to deliver this scheme which will be one of Europe’s key cultural locations. We look forward to now starting construction work and bringing these superb public facilities to life.”
He continued: “The arena, hotel and conference centre completes this iconic waterfront location and will not only create jobs but provides the people of NewcastleGateshead with an exciting new leisure destination and a state of the art music venue where they can see some of the world’s greatest bands perform right on their doorstep.”
Dan Williams, head of development, UK and Ireland PATRIZIA added: “The scheme is designed with biodiversity and sustainability at its core and we have focussed on the creation of superb outdoor spaces as well as delivering the new buildings and associated infrastructure. This will be especially important as we continue to deal with the legacy of Covid and the increased need for well-designed outdoor spaces and walkways.”
Tom Lynch, Director of Business Development, Europe for ASM Global added: “This ambitious and transformational development will create a genuinely unique events campus with an iconic waterfront location. ASM Global has enjoyed over 25 years of success in the North East and we look forward to leveraging our global and local partnerships with leading entertainment, sports, corporate, convention and exhibition event producers, to cement NewcastleGateshead’s reputation as a sought-after business, leisure and cultural destination.”
The scheme includes elevated areas with panoramic views across the River Tyne and 40 new seating areas as well as cycle provision across the site and capacity for electric vehicle charging points within the Council’s new multi-story car park. It will also connect directly to Gateshead’s district energy network.
Award-winning global architect, HOK, has designed the overall masterplan for the site, conference and exhibition centre and arena while AHR Architects are designing the state-of-the-art hotel. The project team also includes: Project Manager and Contract Administrator, Legends International; Lichfields, Planning Consultants; Landscape Architects, Planit:IE; Gardiner and Theobald, QS; ARUP, structural engineers/ M&E and Vectos for transport planning.