Business and tourism leaders back plans for convention centre on Tyneside

Business and tourism leaders are backing £260m plans for a convention centre on the banks of the Tyne in Gateshead, but the scheme is also attracting some opposition.

New CGI videos and images have been released showing what the conference and exhibition centre will look like, along with details of how the facility will operate.

The centre will include a 6,300 sqm, pillar-free exhibition hall which has the capability to be divided into three smaller halls. Alongside this, there will be a smaller conference hall, meeting and events spaces with views of the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides, plus an outdoor events space.

The project will also include a 12,500-capacity arena to replace the Utilita Newcastle Arena, plus two hotels with 290 bedrooms, bars, restaurants, and other public spaces.

But there has been some criticism of the project’s design, and nearly 100 people have objected to the scheme.

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon said: “The Quays development confirms the region’s reputation for world-class events. Gateshead Quays will capitilise on a conferencing demand that the region has been unable to meet and showcase the North East’s strengths to a global audience.

“The new images show just how unique and special the waterfront site is. An events setting like no other in the UK.”

Kerrin MacPhie, head of business events at national tourism organisation VisitBritain, said: “The Gateshead Quays development will create a huge opportunity for NewcastleGateshead, increasing its global reach to attract large-scale events from all over the world. This development is great for the business events industry in the UK and shows confidence within the market.

“The new centre will provide event planners with an exciting option in an already well-established destination within the business events industry and will have a positive impact on bringing more international associations and incentive groups to the area.”

Tyneside business news

A full planning application has been submitted for the development between the Baltic and the Sage Gateshead, with a decision expected in autumn.

Backers of the scheme say that it will create approximately 2,000 jobs and inject £60m into the regional economy each year.

North East LEP chief executive Helen Golightly said the scheme “demonstrates a positive step for our economy, in particular to the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors, which have been severely affected by the Covid 19 pandemic” while James Ramsbottom, chief executive of the North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “In the current circumstances this development would demonstrate a real vote of confidence in our future which will be welcomed by all.”

But the scheme has so far attracted 95 objections from members of the public, compared to 19 messages of support.

International venue and event management company ASM Global has already been confirmed as the operator of the proposed venue. Award-winning global architect HOK is designing the overall masterplan for the site, as well as the conference and exhibition centre, while AHR Architects is designing the hotel.


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