Work is set to start in creating a brand new hub for small businesses at a prime location on the banks of the Tyne.
The £1.9m project at Swans – the former Swan Hunter shipyard site in Wallsend – will transform part of an existing office block to create new and flexible business accommodation, including incubation and development space.
The hub’s position within the River Tyne North Bank Enterprise Zone (EZ) promises to make the development ideal for SMEs connected to the advanced engineering, sub-sea, marine, oil, gas or offshore renewable energy sectors.
Elected Mayor for North Tyneside, Norma Redfearn said: “North Tyneside Council is working hard with its partners to ensure the future success of the prestigious Swans site as a prime business cluster location.
“This latest development will further enhance what’s on offer at Swans for small and medium-sized businesses, particularly those involved in the renewable energy and marine sectors, and really add value to what North Tyneside can offer companies wishing to locate to the site.
“We expect that the hub will attract significant interest from firms looking for that unique combination of prime location and flexible facilities.”
Two floors of a five-storey block owned by North Tyneside Council will be transformed, to deliver a total of 16 units for rent, ranging from 105sqm to 283sqm in size.
The refurbishment work is expected to be complete by late spring 2015.
Unit sizes vary, and the idea is that businesses will remain within the hub as they grow, to create a cluster of sector knowledge and expertise.
Other facilities on site will include a reception area, meeting rooms and kitchen facilities.
Other parts of the building – already occupied by Swan Hunter North East Limited for marine design, Graspan Frankton for training in the marine sector and Shoney Wind – will continue to be used by them.
Kier Property will carry out the refurbishment work on behalf of North Tyneside Council, which will continue to own and manage the building.
The new hub is part of a raft of significant developments which are already underway or about to start at Swans.
The 34-acre riverside site is set to benefit from a number of improvements over the coming months, including new internal link roads, a new bridge on Benton Way for heavy goods vehicles, dredging and quay repairs.
The enhancements are part of the council’s ongoing work to transform the world-famous former shipyard into a riverside site for firms in the rapidly-growing marine, renewable, engineering and sub-sea sectors. North Tyneside Council has secured a total of £26m of funding so far to support the delivery of the project, including grants from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Homes and Communities Agenc (HCA), the North East LEP Growing Places Fund and Single Local Growth Fund.