Breaking the ground on schools and leisure scheme
The first turf has been dug at the start of a major Ponteland development's construction phase.
There will be state-of-the-art facilities in all of the new buildings for the project, which will include a secondary school and primary school and a new leisure centre.
The existing Ponteland Leisure Centre will be demolished and additional land at the site will be used for the project, although there will be new sporting facilities to replace those lost to sections of the new buildings.
Northumberland County Council is funding the scheme, which is being built by Kier Construction.
The local authority also plans to build a new fire station close by, re-providing the one that will be displaced by the scheme.
County council leader Peter Jackson said: “I am absolutely delighted that work is under way in earnest on this landmark development and very much look forward to watching its progress.
“It will provide both first-class learning environments for students for years into the future and an amazing leisure centre, which will give access to high quality sport and leisure facilities and support improvements to health and well-being for the whole community.”
The leisure part of the scheme will include a swimming pool, fitness suite, community facilities, badminton courts, Clip N Climb, soft play and a library in the new centre, as well as outdoor sports fields and a full size 3G pitch.
Brian McQuade, managing director of Kier Construction Scotland and North East England, said: “We are delighted to be starting construction works on this exciting new development in Ponteland.
"Working collaboratively with Northumberland County Council, this new learning and leisure space will provide state-of-the art facilities for the community to enjoy for years to come.
“Throughout the duration of the project, we will be working with local suppliers, engaging with local residents and providing updates on the development and offering training opportunities to local people as we look to showcase our interesting, diverse and rewarding industry.”
The new schools are part of a re-organisation of the Ponteland Partnership that is seeing £52million investment in schools, including a new Darras Hall Primary that opened in September.
The delay during the referral of the planning decision for the new school and leisure complex to the National Casework Planning Unit meant the initial September 2019 opening for the new schools was pushed back to September 2020.
As a result, work is also under way to expand the accommodation on the existing high school site to ensure that temporary accommodation can be provided to allow additional secondary pupils to start in September 2019.
The new development is scheduled for completion by September 2020.