The North East Combined Authority has endorsed an award of a £5m grant for preparatory work on the 10-acre site earmarked for a new convention centre at Gateshead Quays.
Plans to build a £200m conference centre and 12,500 seat arena on the Quayside moved a step closer following NECA’s decision to award of a £5m Local Growth Fund (LGF) grant.
The money will go towards funding preparatory work on the site next to the Sage and the Baltic buildings.
Head of business events at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau Paul Szomoru tells CN: “This announcement is another exciting step forward to help us realise our ambitions to have a major international conference and exhibition centre in NewcastleGateshead.
“The addition of these state-of-the-art facilities, capable of hosting major events, in such an iconic location on the banks of the River Tyne, alongside the stunning Norman Foster designed Sage Gateshead, and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, is going to raise the competitiveness of the UK as a vibrant business events destination, as well as profiling the industry, business and research strengths of NewcastleGateshead and the North East of England.”
Gateshead Council leader, Martin Gannon, welcomed the news, saying: “This is another welcome step towards Gateshead Council bringing a regional arena and conference and exhibition centre to Gateshead Quays which will not only bring new jobs but significantly boost the local and regional economy.”
In July, Gateshead Council announced a partnership with property developers Ask Real Estate and investment group Patrizia for a development which will see the creation of an entertainment, conference and exhibition centre, a hotel, bars and restaurants on the site, with the operator of the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle closing its current site and moving across the river.
The council will borrow £25m to fund the scheme and, as well as the £5m coming from the North East LEP’s local growth fund, the rest will be sought from private partners in the scheme.
The project – which would reach from South Shore Road, across the Mill Road car park and to the former Baric Systems warehouse on Hawks Road – is estimated to support more than 1,100 jobs and inject £29.5m into the area’s economy.
The developers hope to move to the planning stage by the end of 2018 and be open by 2021.