A LANDMARK building in North Tyneside is set to be transformed into a £2m community centre and business exchange.
The Buddle, a 144-year-old former school which has been closed for the last 13 years, will accommodate community space, businesses and provide health and beauty spaces for dozens of firms.
It is currently estimated that the finished space will be capable of housing more than 100 jobs. Once completed, the building will be renamed The Buddle Exchange. It comes after a sale was agreed between North East property developers, Adavo Workspace and owners North Tyneside Council, to secure the future of the historic building.
Mark Black, chief executive of Adavo Workspace, said: “The Buddle is a much-loved landmark in Wallsend and holds lots of memories for countless members of the local area. It’s got a long history, and maybe the last few chapters have gone astray, but the next chapter will be a positive one. The Buddle is about to enter an exciting new phase in its history.”
Covid-19 has delayed plans for the start of works but with the outlook improving, things are starting to move once again.
Mr Black said: “It’s not been easy, certainly. The biggest issue we have faced is one of a lack of certainty. These projects are complex deliveries and already carry risk by their nature, and Covid has only amplified that. However, we must remember it’s only temporary. With things settling down, we can look forward to getting back to work and restoring the Buddle to the centre of its community – where it should be.”
Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, Norma Redfearn CBE said: “The Buddle building is a huge part of Wallsend’s heritage and means so much to people from the area – myself included.
“That’s why it really is so heartening to hear Mark’s ambitious plans, which align with the council’s future plans and will help give the area a massive boost, particularly with the potential for the creation of new jobs.
“We have big plans for Wallsend, through our Ambition for North Tyneside strategy, aimed at attracting more people to come and live, work and visit here, all of which builds on our recent achievements, including securing a new future for the Swans site and delivering affordable housing in the town.
“I, for one, am really excited about the future and it will be brilliant to see the progress made to bring new life to the Buddle and I wish Mark and his team all the very best as things progress and we recover from the pandemic.”
North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon added: “I’m extremely grateful that Adavo Workspace is to continue with the exciting development plans for the Buddle, despite all the uncertainty created by the pandemic.
“The fact that the Adavo Workspace have committed to provide such an excellent business opportunity and community resource, at such a prominent local heritage site, is good news for Wallsend and the wider community of North Tyneside.”
The Buddle’s previous life is still evident, including the original school halls and a unique handball wall towards the back of the building, one of only a handful that survive to this day. Colliery workers would use the wall for a makeshift game on their way back from work at Wallsend’s famous C-Pit.
Having fallen into disrepair due to vandalism and lead theft, the building has been through a number of previous restoration attempts. Under Adavo’s careful watch, that could be set to change. Months and months of meticulous work has gone into taking the best conservation decision possible given the history, the setting and the current state of the building fabric.
Mr Black, who has developed similar premises elsewhere and was the lead on the hugely successful restoration at the nearby Wallsend Town Hall, added: “Our mission is to create over 10,000 jobs in local landmark buildings throughout the region. We’ll need to complete around 30 projects to achieve that, and the Buddle will be the next part of that journey.
“Between the current buildings in our portfolio Adavo already houses over 1,000 local jobs and we are committing to the target of 10,000+ jobs to make a real impact and contribution to the region’s recovery from Covid.
“At Adavo Workspace, we’re dedicated to bringing local big business back to the North East, providing local companies with the right support they need so they can grow within the region and in turn support our local economy.”
The first business units will be available in early 2023, with The Buddle Exchange planned for completion later that year.