Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ambitious Partners Exceed Their Targets

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ambitious Partners Exceed Their Targets

Article excerpt

THE evolution of Gateshead, from a borough built on traditional mining and engineering industries to one with emerging and rapidly growing technology, arts and cultural sectors, is driving radical change.

This is particularly evident in the housing sector, where tired and densely packed flats and terraced houses, with little appeal to younger generations, are being replaced by modern, family friendly homes for rent, shared ownership and sale.

Gateshead Regeneration Partnership was established to deliver this transformation - bringing a step change to the quality and choice of homes available and providing a kick start to local economies - the catalyst to reviving communities.

This ambitious partnership, comprising Gateshead Council, Galliford Try Partnerships and Home Group - with support from the Homes and Communities Agency - is investing PS350m in the development of up to 19 sites across the borough.

Phase one, on three of these sites, will provide the first 309 of these homes. To date, at Deckham, Saltwell Road and in Birtley, 87 homes for private sale, eight for shared ownership and 39 for rent have been completed. Especially at the Trilogy I development (Saltwell Road), this is changing streetscapes almost beyond recognition.

And just as importantly, the project is providing jobs and training for local people, with it already exceeding its targets for employment and developing skills. Three apprentices have been taken on and 11 previously unemployed local people are now in work.

A variety of training opportunities have been provided, from health and safety to NVQ qualifications, whilst over 600 local school children, college and university students have benefited from enterprise days, with many more accepting work experience placements.

Overall, a quarter of the jobs and apprenticeships created by the entire project will be filled by Gateshead people and 25% of the contract value will be spent within the borough.

Local businesses are feeling the benefit too. Sandra Wake, director of the Original Bake House, said: "We recently re-opened a shop on Saltwell Road which had been closed for some time and have been pleasantly surprised by the level of trade from both builders and local residents.

"Everyone seems to appreciate having an authentic bakery on the doorstep and there is a much greater sense of optimism in the neighbourhood now."

Through an innovative funding approach, the partners share both risk and reward - and uniquely, more profitable sites help to cross subsidise the more challenging regeneration priority sites, ensuring a pipeline of new, quality homes throughout Gateshead.

Coun Malcolm Brain, the cabinet member for Housing at Gateshead Council said: "We are determined to build thousands of quality and affordable new homes for local people across the borough. …

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