Government turns down Gateshead's bid for arena money

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Planned development at Gateshead QuaysImage source, Gateshead Council / HOK
Image caption,
Gateshead Council had asked the government for £20m towards the arena development but was turned down

Ministers have decided not to use money from the Levelling Up Fund to help pay for a £260m riverside arena complex on the Gateshead Quays.

Gateshead Council had applied for £20m to go towards the complex, which also includes a conference centre and hotel.

Without the money, the development - between the Baltic art gallery and the Sage music centre - is likely to open a year later than planned.

A grant towards a sporting event on Tyneside in 2026 was also turned down.

The £260m development in Gateshead will include a 12,500-capacity arena, a conference centre, and a hotel.

It will also see new bars, restaurants, public space, and walkways built along the Quayside.

The local authority had asked the government for £20m to cover increased construction costs but was turned down.

Image caption,
Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon said it was "short-sighted" of the government not to fund the project

Gateshead leader Martin Gannon said the decision was "incredibly disappointing."

He added: "To fail to see the transformational impact of something as comprehensive as that is short-sighted by the government."

Five North East projects were approved in the first round of Levelling Up Fund allocations, but a high-profile bid to refurbish the Tyne Bridge and funding to host the 2026 European Championships were not successful.

It was hoped Gateshead and Newcastle could jointly stage the event which combines the European Athletics Championships with other sports including swimming, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon.

But Mr Gannon said a bid for £25m to host the championships had been turned down.

He said: "The European Games 2026 is effectively, without government support, dead in the water."

The authority was told the bid was unsuccessful due to "an extremely challenging process, taking into account the significant public expenditure during the pandemic to keep people employed and support a wide range of public services and sectors, including sport".

A Department for Levelling Up spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "Unsuccessful bidders can submit another bid in the next round and we'll be working with them to help improve their bids."

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