A city-based design team has been appointed to develop a masterplan for a major part of Blyth’s regeneration strategy to help further cement its renewable energy reputation.
Located next to the National Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) and Port of Blyth, the £25m Commissioner’s Wharf project in Blyth, Northumberland is a key area for energy growth.
xsite architecture, which was set up in 2000, and operates from a studio in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle, was appointed by Arch, The Northumberland Development Company to come up with designs for three of the four phases of the development after a competitive tender earlier this year.
Located in the Blyth Estuary Enterprise Zone, the first £6.5m phase, Blyth Workspace, will form the centrepiece of the development.
Workspace will offer serviced office accommodation of around 30,000 sq ft.
Later phases of the site will include new housing as well as shopping and leisure facilities.
Funding for the development has come from the North East European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Competitiveness Porgramme 2007-2013 (£2.977m); £2.5m from the Homes and Communities Agency, and £2.6m from NELEP North East Investment Fund in October.
Tim Bailey, partner at xsite said he was delighted that the practice has been chosen to start work on the designs.
Bailey said: “The site is a major opportunity for Blyth to revive its riverfront, attract some really substantial inward investment and additionally, to create some diversity of residential tenure within the new-build housing element of the scheme.
“Sustainability formed an important element of the briefing process which is wholly complementary to xsite’s own design philosophy.
“We always place a high priority on sustainability, drawing upon our substantial contribution to the built environment, the development of energy management strategies to assist low running costs and the delivery of projects with high levels of satisfaction, thus reducing the need for refurbishment costs in the future.
“We were able to demonstrate important and relevant previous project experience, for example delivery of the Toffee Factory in the Ouseburn, which has won a number of awards, as well as our involvement in other key regeneration schemes in the region.
“We are very much looking forward to Phase One, Blyth Workspace, starting on site in the near future and bringing our design proposals to life.”
Sustainability is key to the development’s design, added Peter McIntyre, managing director of Arch Group.
He said: “This is a flagship project for Arch and this first phase of the development will help to further support Blyth Estuary’s reputation as a centre of excellence in renewable energy and as a prime location for inward investors, particularly those within the offshore energy sector.
“NaREC has already created momentum in this regard and the development of this site will continue to focus on Blyth as a place capable of making a major contribution to GDP within the region and as a location for new employment opportunities.
“We were impressed with the various proposals presented to us for this site, but xsite’s vision demonstrated both a deep understanding of the regeneration process and the flair required to significantly elevate this scheme so that the Blyth Estuary Enterprise Zone becomes the location of choice for renewable energy research in the North of England. In this way, we can attract international manufacturers into the UK.”