Gateshead Council has secured £20m (€22.9m/$24.7m) from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund to support the development of The Sage, a new arena and conference centre on Gateshead Quayside.
The council submitted the bid in August and the funding has been secured after the Government recognised the economic impact of the development and how it is a “vital piece in the jigsaw” for increasing opportunities for residents and promoting local business.
The mixed-use entertainment district will be operated by ASM Global and will be anchored by a 12,500-seat arena, which will host music and cultural events, as well as sports such as boxing, darts and basketball.
The council noted that the project has been impacted by escalating construction costs and international crises, but a full review of budgets has been carried out to ensure cost efficiencies while the Government decided on the Levelling Up Fund allocations.
As part of the cost efficiencies, two hotels have been relocated to vacant land within the Baltic Quarter, directly opposite The Sage. A planning application has been submitted to relocate the hotels, with the land occupied by the hotels in the original design to be opened up as an urban park.
The Sage is projected to drive an additional one million visitors to Gateshead Quayside, which it is hoped will lead to increased footfall through Gateshead town centre and provide a positive impact on local business.
Councillor Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, said: “It’s great that the Government has recognised the benefits of The Sage development, especially during the current economic climate.
“As a council we are dedicated to ensuring The Sage is delivered; so that we can deliver employment opportunities to our residents of Gateshead and beyond. The economic benefits of The Sage will radiate out as local businesses and hospitality benefit from the increase of trade.”
Global architecture and engineering firm HOK announced in March last year that plans for The Sage had been approved. The development will cost around £300m to build, with enabling works beginning last January.
In August, the council maintained that the arena would be developed despite concerns over funding. It came after it was reported in November 2021 that completion of the project had been pushed back after it was denied Levelling Up funding in that year’s Budget.
Officials had indicated that if the council was again denied a share of the Levelling Up Fund, the project would be redesigned and scaled back rather than completely abandoned, but this week’s announcement appears to have allayed any concerns.