The scheme combines an arena and exhibition centre. Credit: planning documents

Quayside arena design changes set for sign-off

Gateshead Council is expected to rubber-stamp alterations to the proposed £330m events arena and conference centre.

The local authority’s planning committee meets on Wednesday 12 July, and will be asked to sign off the latest application for the site. The 12,500-capacity arena is intended to succeed Newcastle’s existing Utilita Arena, and is to be advanced with a 61,000 sq ft conference centre.

Ask Patrizia is the joint venture developer responsible for the project, designed by HOK. The professional team includes planner Lichfields, engineer Cundall, QS Corefive, Planit-IE, Crowd Dynamics and Vectos.

Granted consent in December 2020, the masterplan has undergone several changes, most notable the moving of the approved Novotel-Ibis dual-branded hotel to a neighbouring plot – this was approved in March, with Russell WBHO appointed in June as contractor for the £48m scheme.

A linear park replaces the hotel in the arena site plans.

Enabling works have been taking place over the last two years at the 13-acre arena site, which sits close to the Millennium Bridge and Sage Gateshead.

The tweaks to the scheme include the simplification of the entrance canopies, the redesign of the arena’s north podium stairs to align better with the hotel’s new location and the reinstatement of the service yard’s green roof.

There are also changes to the conference and exhibition centre, where the north-east corner has come in for particular scrutiny. Now proposed is an additional area to house a retail-leisure unit displaced from the hotel; meeting room breakout space; and an extension of the riverfront concourse.

A subterranean link to Sage Gateshead has now been discarded, to be replaced by an external covered link on the lower part of Performance Square.

To be operated by ASM Global, the arena is being supported with a £20m contribution from the Levelling Up Fund.

Officers recommend that approval be granted for the proposals. The reference on Gateshead’s planning portal is DC/23/00275/FUL.

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