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Plans approved for new multi-million pound Sage Arena and International Conference Centre

The latest plans have been approved for the new 12,500 capacity international grade Sage Arena and International Conference Centre (ICC), located in the heart of Gateshead on the banks of the River Tyne. On Wednesday 12th July 2023, Gateshead Council’s planning committee unanimously granted permission for revised plans for the ICC and Arena, as well as an urban park, which will enhance biodiversity in the area and provide both pedestrian link and lift access from South Shore Road and the Millennium Bridge area up to Hawks Road, Gateshead College and the recently approved hotels.

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 vacant land within 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 be opened in Autumn 2025
  • Dual branded Hotel will be opened in Autumn 2025
  • The Sage Arena will open in 2027

Construction work is due to begin this Autumn on what forms one of the major projects for 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 ICC sponsor, Sage Plc. There has already been very strong interest from the international conference market in hosting in Gateshead.

The Sage Arena and International Conference Centre will transform the south bank of the River Tyne into one of the UK’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 labour and apprenticeships and the flagship project will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the surrounding area and beyond.

Earlier this year, Gateshead Council secured £20m in funding from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund. The Government recognised 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 development acts as a catalyst for £2billion of investment of multi purpose development which will be fundamental in transforming the riverside from Gateshead Quays to the Derwent Valley. 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. The hotel will be located on a 0.5-acre site at the corner of 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 storey hotel was approved by Gateshead Council in March 23 and Russell WBHO is planning to commence work on the two year build programme 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.

It is estimated that the Sage development will provide over 2000 jobs, and the companies running the buildings will engage positively to employ local people with Working Gateshead – a team of trained coaches within Gateshead Council who support 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 local young people. It is also estimated there will be 300 jobs throughout the wider supply chain.

Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said:

‘‘Today marks another major milestone in the project and we’re looking forward to bringing the Sage Arena and ICC 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.’’

Ian Thomas, Destination Director, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said:

“This is an excellent step forward. We welcome all progress on the Sage Arena and 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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