The Sage revised plans to boost Green space


Plans approved for revised Sage Arena Image: Gateshead Council and The Sage

The latest plans have been approved for the new 12,500-capacity international grade Sage Arena and the International Conference Centre (ICC), located in the heart of Gateshead (UK) on the banks of the River Tyne.

‘Gateshead Council’ stated that on July 12th, 2023, the Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee unanimously granted permission for revised plans for the ICC and the Sage Arena, as well as an urban park, which will enhance biodiversity in the area and provide both pedestrian link and lift access from the South Shore Road and the Millennium Bridge area up to Hawks Road, Gateshead College and the recently approved hotels.

The 12,500-capacity Sage is a forthcoming indoor arena and conference center in Gateshead, United Kingdom due to open in phases between 2025 and 2027. The site is located between the existing Sage Gateshead venue and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art on Gateshead Quayside.

The 2,240-capacity Sage Gateshead is a concert venue and musical education center in Gateshead on the South side of the River Tyne in North East England (UK). Opened in 2004 and occupied by the North Music Trust, it is part of the Gateshead Quays development which includes the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. Its name honors a patron: The accountancy software company The Sage Group.

The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art is a center for contemporary art located on the South bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England (UK). It hosts a frequently changing variety of exhibitions, events and educational programs with no permanent exhibition. The idea to open a center for contemporary arts in Gateshead was developed in the 1990s, which was a time of regeneration for the local area – the Sage and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge was also being conceived of in this period.

The Sage International Conference Centre is the United Kingdom’s newest International Conference and Exhibition Centre and Arena Venue opening in 2025. The Sage ICC is a brand-new, vibrant destination for business meeting and event. The waterfront conference and exhibition center not only has easy access to both the Newcastle and Gateshead town centre, but is right at the heart of the spirit of the North East of England.

Gateshead, Tyne and Wear (UK)-based the Gateshead Council is the local Government authority for the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. The Council is based at the Gateshead Civic Centre and is made up of 22 electoral wards, each with three elected Councilors.

‘Gateshead Council’ further stated that the arena is being built to replace the nearby 11,000-capacity Utilita Arena Newcastle in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, that was originally opened in 1995.

Whilst the development most recently gained planning permission in March 2022, a revised planning application was submitted in March 2023 due to design and scheme changes. The dual branded 344-bed hotel has been relocated to a vacant land within the Baltic Quarter, directly opposite The Sage development, and the land occupied by the hotels in the original design will be opened up as an urban park bringing valuable Green space into the area and enhancing biodiversity.

Changes within the planning application also included updates to the timeline for the delivery of The Sage. A number of global factors outside the Council and its partners control have impacted, and are continuing to impact, on the development. The issues include the ongoing impact of COVID on the supply chain, inflationary pressures, energy prices, and the war in Ukraine. To mitigate these impacts the developer has broken down the scheme into smaller delivery packages.

  • The Sage International Conference Centre will open in Autumn 2025;
  • The dual branded Hotel will open in Autumn 2025; and
  • The Sage Arena will open in 2027.

Construction work is due to begin this Autumn on what forms one of the major projects for the Gateshead Council and the region, the Sage International Conference Centre. Opening in 2025, the ICC includes 5,720sqm state-of-the-art exhibition space, 2,520sqm adaptable meeting space, 17 conference rooms, and a banqueting suite. A regional asset, the ICC will be the only such facility between Yorkshire and Scotland and will bring the world stage to the North East, much like the Arena and the ICC sponsor, Sage Plc. There has already been very strong interest from the international conference market in hosting in Gateshead.

The Sage Arena and the International Conference Centre will transform the South bank of the River Tyne into one of United Kingdom’s most dynamic visitor destinations. The impact on the visitor economy is vast, bringing an estimated 1 million+ additional visitors to the world-famous Quayside, many for overnight stays. The potential ongoing economic impact is transformational for the businesses and residents of Gateshead, with a direct investment of over £99m per annum in the local economy and an additional £70m of direct investment beyond the venue itself, particularly in the local hospitality sector. Add 2000 jobs, links to local labor and apprenticeships and the flagship project will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the surrounding area and beyond.

Earlier this year, the Gateshead Council secured £20m in funding from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund. The Government recognized the economic impact the development will have, how it is a vital piece in the jigsaw for increasing opportunities for residents to secure long-term sustainable jobs, promoting local business, restoring civic pride in the borough, and bringing millions of pounds of investment to Gateshead and the North East region.

The Levelling Up Fund was announced in November 2020 as part of the 2020 Spending Review. The purpose of the Fund is to invest in the “local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities and will support economic recovery”. The Fund is worth £4.8 billion.

The development acts as a catalyst for £2 billion of investment of multipurpose development which will be fundamental in transforming the riverside from Gateshead Quays to the Derwent Valley. The Gateshead Council is working closely with the private sector to attract investment to the borough. There are multiple investment opportunities on the banks of the River Tyne and beyond, including land for up to 6,000 homes and up to 700,000 sqm of commercial development.

In June 2023, the contractor for the adjacent hotel was announced as Russell WBHO (real estate builders and construction company in Stretford, England). The hotel will be located on a 0.5-acre site at the corner of the Quarryfield Road and Hawks Road, accommodating future visitors to The Sage International Conference Centre and Arena, as well as supporting the wider region. The planning application for the 180,898 sq ft, nine story hotel was approved by the Gateshead Council on March 23rd and the Russell WBHO is planning to commence work on the two-year build program before the end of the year.

Designed by AHR Architects, the hotel will feature restaurants, bars and business meeting rooms as well as a gym and will be managed by Vine Hotels. The hotel is expected to create 75 full-time hospitality jobs with an additional 40 new roles across the regional supply chain. The hotel will have the ability to accommodate 210,000 visitor nights per year, contributing an estimated £13m annual contribution being made to the local economy.

Manchester, Greater Manchester (UK)-based AHR Architects are architects and building consultants who believe places have the power to shape a more positive future – for the people who use them, for the local communities and for our planet. Working across nine UK offices, the firm deliver projects for clients in a variety of sectors – locally and internationally. The design studio’s multiservice approach provides a complete understanding of the full life cycle of the built environment. By embracing innovation, and with expertise grounded in two centuries of practise, AHR Architects deliver healthier, safer and smarter buildings and spaces.

It is estimated that the Sage development will provide over 2,000 jobs and the companies running the buildings will engage positively to employ local people with the Working Gateshead – a team of trained coaches within the Gateshead Council who support the Gateshead residents to find a job. This will include c650 construction jobs, working with the contractors to establish a construction training village securing opportunities for the local young people. It is also estimated there will be 300 jobs throughout the wider supply chain.

Maintained Martin Gannon, Leader of the Gateshead Council, “Today (July 12th) marks another major milestone in the project and we’re looking forward to bringing The Sage Arena and The Sage International Conference Centre to Gateshead, attracting high-profile events and conferences to our region. The development will bring numerous opportunities and benefits to our residents, attracting visitors and creating jobs and bringing millions of pounds of investment to Gateshead and the North East.’”

Averred Ian Thomas, Destination Director, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, “This is an excellent step forward. We welcome all progress on the Sage Arena and the International Conference Centre (ICC). It will be such a transformational asset for our whole region, showcasing our strengths to a global audience and supporting the growth of our visitor economy.”

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