The centre will take over the Sage name. Credit: Virtual Planit/HOK

Contractor picked for £150m Gateshead event venue

Lendlease has been appointed by the council’s development partner Ask:Patrizia to deliver the Sage International Conference Centre, the first part of a £350m project on the banks of the Tyne.

Delivery of the 61,440 sq ft conference centre will be followed by the 12,500-capacity Sage Arena, which will be procured under a separate construction contract. Both will be operated by ASM Global.

Designed by HOK Architects, the project team also includes planning consultants Lichfields, engineer Cundall, QS Core Five, Planit-IE, Crowd Dynamics, Vectos and MEP consultants Desco.

A refreshed planning consent was secured in July for the arena and conference centre complex after tweaks were made to the riverside project.

Design amendments included the relocation of the 344-room dual branded hotel to an adjacent site and the subsequent creation of an urban park on the area freed up, which will create a pedestrian link from the Gateshead Millennium Bridge up to Hawks Road.

Enabling works have been taking place over the last two years and Lendlease plan to make a start on site later this year.

With a GDV of £150m, The Sage International Conference Centre will be delivered in the first phase of the scheme and will include 27,000 sq ft of adaptable meeting space in addition to the conferencing footprint. There will also be 17 conference rooms and a banqueting suite.

The first phase will also include the park and the £48m Novotel/Ibis hotel, to be delivered by Russell WBHO in a contract awarded in June.

Lendlease is experienced in the delivery of major event space, with a portfolio that includes the SSE Hydro (now the OVO Hydro) in Glasgow and Sydney’s International Convention Centre.

David Cadiot, executive general manager of UK regions for Lendlease, said: “Lendlease has a track record of building, designing and project managing some of the world’s greatest sporting and entertainment venues. We’ll bring the know how to create an exceptional venue, one which local people will be hugely proud to have on their doorstep.”

On behalf of the development partnership, John Hughes, managing director of Ask Real Estate, said: “We’re really pleased to have partnered with Lendlease to bring forward the first phase of The Sage International Conference Centre and The Sage Arena scheme and look forward to seeing this superb facility emerge on the Gateshead waterfront.

“Lendlease has significant experience in delivering large-scale, complex schemes and we’re determined to realise the partnership’s vision for The Sage International Conference Centre and deliver this transformational and ambitious development for the region.”

In 2021, the scheme secured a naming rights partnership with accounting and HR software group Sage, succeeding the existing, instantly recognisable neighbouring venue, which will be renamed. A further £20m was secured from central government’s Levelling Up Fund second round awards in January of this year.

Peter Udall, strategic director: economy, innovation and growth at Gateshead Council, said: “Lendlease is committed to delivering new jobs, skills and sustainability initiatives on every project – all of which are critical success factors of regeneration in Gateshead.

“We’re looking forward to working with Lendlease to bring The Sage International Conference Centre and all its wider benefits to Gateshead and the region.”

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This looks good, although late, the arena really needs to happen.

By Jean G

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