The Gateshead Quayside is set to welcome its most recent development in the shape of a new college campus which promises to provide students with some of the best learning facilities in the country, writes Chris Knox
GATESHEAD College’s £37m Baltic Campus is in the final stages of development and will provide students with the best teaching and training facilities. The innovative campus opens in January next year and is set to transform the prospects of the region’s future students as well as the face of the Gateshead Quayside.
It will feature a new spa and beauty suite, music recording and video studios, fitness, weights and dance studios and craft and design workshops, as well as a commercial bistro, cafés and a large atrium.
The learning facilities will become the college’s flagship campus and will also house all the main classrooms and facilities for programmes including business, IT and performance study.
The public will also be able to use some of the facilities on offer, such as a Japanese garden and sauna.
The angular building will have the capacity to manage an intake of 7,000 students each term and create more than 150 jobs in the region.
The site has recently been visited by Tyne Bridge Labour MP David Clelland, who heaped praise on its development.
He said: “I want each and every young person in Gateshead to have the opportunity to realise their full potential – the resources offered by the new campus do exactly that.
“It’s an exciting development, not only in education but also for the Gateshead quayside area and the wider Gateshead community.”
The site was also recently visited by Minister for Skills David Lammy who was equally impressed by its progress.
After receiving complaints that the development would increase traffic congestion around the surrounding area, the college is promoting car sharing and public transport among its staff.
The new facilities will also include lockers and showers to encourage staff to run or cycle to work as well as a secure area to park their bikes.
The college announced its plans for Baltic Campus in January 2005 before beginning work on the site in February 2006.
In June this year, the construction team completed the roof of the building.
The Baltic campus is part of a wider £60m investment programme which has seen the college begin work on an additional skills campus at the Team Valley Industrial Estate. While the college’s current site at Team Valley will continue to specialise in automotive courses, the new development will concentrate on manufacturing qualifications.
The project has already benefited the North-East economy, with a number of local contractors brought in to help construct the campus. The college recently appointed Spennymoor-based Howell Cummings to supply and install the training and commercial kitchens at the campus.
The facilities will form part of the college’s catering programmes and provide students with 250sqm of work space.
Incorporating state-of-the-art equipment, the purpose-built kitchens will feature stainless steel worktops, white rock walls and specialist hygienic flooring. Steve Collingwood, Gateshead College facilities manager, said: “The training areas will include all the latest equipment, allowing our students to learn in industry-standard kitchens without the pressure of a commercial environment.
“However, when they are ready to take on this challenge, we can offer students the unique opportunity to work in the bistro for paying customers.”
The college was designed by Red Box Design in Newcastle while the main construction contract was handed to York-based company Shepherd.
In addition, Newcastle-based Grainger Homes was able to purchase the college’s current site on Durham Road, Low Fell.
The housing group plans to build up to 300 homes and apartments after securing the multi-million pound deal.