Work to transform a much-loved Wallsend building where music superstar Sting used to practice is underway.
The £1.5million restoration of the former Buddle arts centre will see the creation of more than 100 jobs.
The landmark, which also used to be a school, will be converted into growth workspace for local businesses as well as community space for events and conferencing.
In order to secure a new future for the site North Tyneside Council is working with property developer and listed building specialist Adavo Property, the firm behind the regeneration of the Town Hall in Wallsend.
Building surveys are now almost complete and the site investigation phase is in the final stages, according to its Chief Executive Mark Black.
Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn CBE said: “I am delighted to see the progress being made to breathe new life into the historic former Buddle building, which holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many people in the borough and further afield.
“Alongside Mark and his team we have worked hard to secure the future of this important heritage site and it is fantastic that the development will also provide much-needed jobs for local people.”
Mr Black said: “The building is in real need of intervention if we are to keep it serving the community so it’s a timely deal that’s been done with the support and help of North Tyneside Council. Make no mistake this project is a big undertaking – certainly not one to be taken on lightly – but we have a great team on this project and will meet the challenge.
“The number of local residents we have had coming up to the team on-site to give their support and encouragement has been amazing; more so than any of the other buildings we have restored to date. The Buddle is clearly much loved in Wallsend and holds many childhood memories for the local community. It’s a privilege to be part of its renewal and to be able to bring hundreds of quality local jobs into an area that needs them is something we can all get behind and support.
“Wallsend Town Hall business centre is now full and there are some great business success stories there, which create new jobs and help drive a real business community that contributes to the high street and surrounding area.”
North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon said: “The massive investment being put into the Buddle is well deserved, as the building has so much historic relevance to the community of Wallsend and beyond.
“I am pleased Adavo has made this their new project, they have made such a success of the former Town Hall and I’m confident they can do the same with the Buddle”.