River Tyne, South Shields and Billingham awarded Levelling Up funding by government

The cash is part of the Levelling Up Fund. Credit: PA

Fifty-nine million pounds of government funding has been awarded to three projects in the North East.

The successful bids include South Shields, which is getting £20m for three projects, while Newcastle is receiving £19m to support industries on the River Tyne. Twenty million has been allocated for Billingham high street.

It comes as part of Round 3 of the Government's Levelling Up Fund (LUF) which aims to boost jobs, support communities and create equality.

Almost £20m has been awarded to a restoration facility to sustain the use of the River Tyne and access to quays, creating more than 700 new jobs and protecting existing ones in the offshore energy sector.

This will involve the construction of a reservoir, built out from the riverbank, to hold sediment dredged from the riverbed.

The funding will be topped up with a further £6.6m provided by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Cllr Nick Kemp, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: "Shipbuilding is an iconic part of our industrial heritage associated with the River Tyne and today the area has evolved into a global hub for offshore renewable energy manufacturing."

A fund of £20m will be used to revitalise South Shields riverside, including the redevelopment of the Grade II listed Customs House to include classrooms, a rehearsal space and an outdoor performance area.

A Centre for Excellence at the Holborn Renewable Energy Network and accommodation as part of the relocation of South Tyneside College will also be supported.

Leader of South Tyneside Council, Cllr Tracey Dixon, said: "These three interconnecting projects aim to boost the economic and social recovery of South Shields through culture, skills and the green economy."

MP for South Shields, Emma Lewell-Buck, backed the projects and said she would work with the government to guarantee plans remain deliverable due to rising costs.

Meanwhile, Billingham town centre will be regenerated with £20m of support, to try and safeguard its businesses and improve its high street.

Councillor Nigel Cooke and cabinet member for regeneration and housing at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council said: "This is the first step in a journey for Billingham. It's a fantastic town with huge potential and we now have a golden opportunity before us to bring about real transformational change."

The news was also welcomed by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen who said: "There are no excuses for any delay in getting this cash to Billingham."

Between 2020 and January 2023, more than £400m was announced for projects in the North East through the Towns Fund and LUF, including money to develop Hartlepool's Wesley Chapel and to build a new leisure centre in West Denton and an arena on Gateshead quayside.

The Government has faced criticism over the LUF, with significant amounts of investment allocated to Conservative-held and more affluent areas. 

Our research in August found the majority of projects in the region in the Towns Fund and the first two rounds of the LUF had not yet been completed and the majority of money had not yet been spent.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...