The space R&D centre will come in at 59,000 sq ft. Credit: planning documents

McAlpine to deliver £26m NESST in Newcastle

Northumbria University’s Wynne Jones building will be partially demolished, refurbished and extended, to become the Ryder-designed North East Space Skills & Technology Centre.

Consent was secured in February for the project, which it has now been confirmed will be built by Sir Robert McAlpine.

To be shared with industry partners such as Lockheed Martin – an investor in the project along with the UK Space Agency – the 59,000 sq ft building is billed as “a world-class R&D, educational and incubator facility for the regional, national, and international space sector”.

SRM said that the works will include new ground floor and six upper levels with a footprint area of 9,700 sq ft.

The building will provide satellite manufacturing clean rooms, advanced prototyping laboratories, a Mission Operations Centre teaching laboratories and collaborative spaces for work with companies in the space manufacturing supply chain.

NESST is expected to directly support the creation of over 350 jobs, and will inject £260m into the North East economy over the next 30 years, said the partners.

The contractor said that the award builds on its long-standing successful relationship with Northumbria University. The job was awarded via the North East Procurement Organisation framework for council and public body projects.

Mark Gardham, sector director at the building firm, said: “Sir Robert McAlpine’s appointment to lead the delivery of the North East Space Skills and Technology Centre signifies not only our commitment to engineering excellence but also a dedication to pioneering advancements in the UK’s space industry. We look forward to commencing onsite over the coming months.”

Professor John Woodward, pro-vice chancellor (international) at Northumbria University, said: “We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sir Robert McAlpine to carry out the next phase of the development of NESST.

“Their expertise and track-record for delivering some of the UK’s most iconic buildings will prove invaluable in realising our vision to create a state-of-the-art facility that will house world-leading space experts and unite industry with academia, to transform the UK space economy.

“NESST has been carefully designed to redevelop and reutilise as much of the structure of the former Wynne Jones Centre as reasonably practicable, retaining thousands of tonnes of embedded carbon in the retained concrete frame, while delivering a new energy efficient building, fit to power the next generation of space innovation.”

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