The next phase of work at Newcastle upon Tyne’s £200m Stephenson Quarter – which could create more than 800 jobs - is set to get underway following planning consent by Newcastle City Council.
Proposals to develop the North East Futures University Technical College (UTC) and erect Phoenix, a six-storey office development, were given the green light by the council on Friday March 17.
Once archaeological inspections and detailed design work are complete, developer Clouston Group is aiming to have the UTC and Phoenix buildings – representing a combined investment of £28.5m - complete and open by September 2018.
The recruitment programme for the first intake of students at the UTC is already underway and interest is high across the region.
David Clouston, Managing Director of Clouston Group, said: “We’re delighted to get the wholehearted support from the City Council for this exciting new phase of development at Stephenson Quarter.
“Regional and national politicians and the region’s universities, along with local and blue-chip employers are anxious to see the development of this UTC in Newcastle.
“The two buildings are mutually beneficial and interlinked. Phoenix will accommodate dynamic, high-growth companies and offer the potential for cooperation with the adjacent UTC providing students with work experience and mentoring opportunities.”
Stephenson Quarter is recognised as an ideal site for such an ambitious project, a new type of school offering innovative ways of learning for 14-18 year olds and centred around the specialist subjects of IT and health sciences. Importantly for recruitment and accessibility, the site is based in the centre of the city with easy access to both the Metro, Central station along with great bus and road links.
Ultimately, some 600 pupils will attend the school, providing jobs for at least 40 teachers along with 20 other ancillary staff.
Alison Shaw, UTC Education Director, said: “This is a major milestone for the development of the UTC in Newcastle. The timing couldn’t be better given the government’s recently launched Industrial Strategy and our own North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan; there is a sharp focus on the need for more high level technical skills to drive the region’s economy.
“The aims of the UTC are aligned with those of the LEP and city area. We are committed to giving young people the technical skills to secure well-paid employment, or move into higher education; we’re here to inspire and help our young people get more and better jobs in the future.”
Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP, said: “Stephenson Quarter is a hugely significant regeneration project with the existing developments on the site already having a positive economic impact for the North East.
"We are very pleased that the next phase of redevelopment is progressing which will focus on developing our young people’s skills in growing areas of our economy – digital and life sciences. The project and ambition is strongly aligned with our Strategic Economic Plan and its aim to create more and better jobs for our region.”
Bob Paton CBE, Chair of North East Futures UTC Board of Trustees; recently retired MD Accenture UK; Vice-Chair, Dynamo, said:
"We believe North East Futures UTC is an essential component of the North East's skills strategy and will help us develop the workforce of the future in both Information Technology and Health Sciences. The UTC has huge support from employers in both these sectors, who are ready to give hands-on help to the young people who apply to come to school with us. The UTC is at a very exciting stage in its development and we are really looking forward to seeing the building take shape."
The mixed-use scheme, being developed by Clouston Group, already includes the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Stephenson Quarter Car Park, the 35,000 sq ft Rocket office building and the recently refurbished Boiler Shop. Once complete, Stephenson Quarter will be a vibrant, dynamic working, learning and relaxing environment.
Recent policy changes indicate significant Government support for UTCs. Justine Greening, who has publicly praised UTCs, has recently announced £600k of transitional funding for all UTCs; this amounts to around £30m additional revenue funding over 3 years. She has also developed new policy to make it mandatory for local authorities to write to all parents of 13 and 16 year olds telling them about UTCs - and this has been implemented with immediate effect. In addition, an amendment is in process to the Technical Education Bill, that will mean that UTC Principals must be allowed into all standard state schools to speak to students.
UTC outcomes in 2016 were impressive: 97% of leavers remained in education or employment (91% nationally);44% accepted University places (38% nationally); 29% started apprenticeships (8% nationally); 15% started a job (3% nationally); 0.5% NEET (5% nationally)