Work to start on £1.9m riverside business hub

Artist's impression of how the Business Incubation Hub at Swans could look once complete.
Artist's impression of how the Business Incubation Hub at Swans could look once complete.

A new hub for small businesses is starting to take shape on the banks of the Tyne.

Work is due to start on a £1.9m project at Swans – the former Swan Hunter shipyard site in Wallsend – to transform part of an existing office block into business accommodation.

Officials at North Tyneside Council say the hub’s position within the River Tyne North Bank Enterprise Zone (EZ) will make the development ideal for small and medium-sized companies connected to the advanced engineering, sub-sea, marine, oil, gas or offshore renewable energy sectors.

Mayor 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.”

The work will convert two floors of a five storey block owned by the council, to deliver a total of 16 units for rent. The refurbishment work is expected to be complete by late spring 2015.

The varying unit dimensions will allow businesses to remain within the hub as they grow, with the aim of developing and retaining a strong cluster of sector knowledge and expertise.

Other facilities on site will include a contemporary, high quality reception area, meeting rooms and kitchen facilities.

Some other parts of the building – which are 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 and, in keeping with Swans’ site designation as a Low Carbon Enterprise Zone, the work will be completed to improve energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

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 North Tyneside Council’s ongoing work to transform the world-famous former shipyard into a high-quality riverside site for firms that are linked to advanced engineering, marine, renewable and sub-sea sectors.

North Tyneside Council has secured a total of £26m of funding so far to support the delivery of the Swans project, including grants from the European Regional Development Fund, Homes and Communities Agency, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership Growing Places Fund and Single Local Growth Fund.