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Gateshead arena project given final all-clear

Work is due to begin as planned next year on a £260m (€287.5m/$348.7m) arena complex at Gateshead Quayside after the UK Government elected not to call in the project for review.

NewcastleGateshead Quays Arena and Conference & Exhibition Centre will include a 12,500-capacity arena managed by ASM Global. Gateshead Council’s planning committee last month gave the green light to the proposals submitted by its development partner Ask:PATRIZIA, but a request for review was subsequently entered by the National Planning Casework Unit.

This could have led to an inspector launching a formal inquiry into the plans, but Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, has opted against a call-in. A Gateshead Council spokesperson said, according to the local Evening Chronicle newspaper: “Gateshead Council confirms that the Secretary of State has decided not to call in this application.

“Construction is due to begin early 2021, giving a boost to the local supply chain and creating job opportunities at a time when the region needs it the most.”

The complex, to be built by the NewcastleGateshead waterfront at Gateshead Quays, will feature a 29,000 sqm arena venue for entertainment and sports alongside international conferences, meetings and exhibitions as well as festivals and cultural events. A source for the project told TheStadiumBusiness last month that boxing, darts and basketball are among the sports set to be staged at the arena.

Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2021, with the venue to open in late 2023. The scheme, which is 54,500 sqm in total, will be designed by HOK Architects and built by Sir Robert McAlpine.

As well as the venue, the project will include a 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.

It is the 13-storey hotel element of the project that has proved controversial, with residents at the nearby Baltic Quays development having complained that it will block light and impact the skyline of the Quayside.

Baltic Quays resident and director of Baltic Quays Leaseholds Ltd, Peter Bauckham, said: “We are very disappointed that the Secretary of State has not called in the hotel plans on design grounds. It remains our view that the hotel will be a blight on the Quayside landscape and that it was not given due attention at Gateshead’s Planning and Development Committee meeting.”

Image: HOK International