Whitley Bay Customer First Centre atrium

The £5.8m building project was led by the developer, Newcastle and North Tyneside LIFT Co, which is a partnership between North Tyneside Primary Care Trust, North Tyneside Council and Robertson.

The 2,700 sq m building was part of a commitment by North Tyneside Council to have a Customer First Centre in each of the five main conurbations of the borough.

Other services provided include tourist information with hotel booking, careers advice, a children's and teenage area, computers and a café. There are also rooms and spaces for use by various community groups.

“Robertson have done a great job. They’ve been very easy to work with, they’ve listened to what we’ve asked, they’ve made adjustments where that was necessary ... We couldn’t ask for more from a developer who listens to what we’re trying to do as an end user.”

Paul Gowans – Head of Cultural Services, North Tyneside Council

Working to meet every user’s needs

This was a design and build project that Robertson took forward from the beginning of the process. The nature of this building and its use within the wider community meant that we needed to develop close working relationships with the client and end users from a very early stage. Regular liaison sessions, before starting on site and throughout construction, achieved agreement on every aspect of the design. Everyone was consulted and was happy with elements such as space planning, finishes, furniture and decoration. Changes were kept to an absolute minimum during works, preventing delays.

Whitley Bay Customer First Centre library

The significance of a central location

The location in Whitley Bay was designed to encourage people to come into the town centre, with the intention of driving the wider regeneration of the area.

This did create challenges, meaning that the construction works and logistics needed careful planning. Consideration of deliveries to site, cleanliness of the site itself and the surrounding streets, and noise limitation, helped us maintain positive relationships with our immediate neighbours and the local authority.

This led to no accidents on site, complaints from the public or problems with our neighbours.

A building in its community          

The building itself was designed to blend sympathetically with its surroundings. It is the same height as neighbouring properties and the external facades consist mainly of brickwork, interspersed with rainscreen cladding. The interior features a full-height atrium with an open-plan layout in most areas. This gives each floor a light and airy feel and makes the building open and welcoming for a variety of users.

Whitley Bay Customer First Centre library

‘Excellent’ environmental performance

A key challenge on this project was to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, which was tackled collaboratively by our design and facilities management teams.

Our FM team encouraged materials, plant and finishes to be sourced from local contractors and businesses to make ongoing maintenance and serviceability easy and more sustainable.

Key aspects of the design, particularly in relation to energy usage, were influenced by benchmarking other facilities and devising ways to reduce consumption. The choice and impact of sustainable measures was agreed on a whole-life basis, which enabled decisions on renewables and passive measures, such as the sedum roofing, to be made. The final outcome of the process was a score of 74.45%: a BREEAM Excellent rating.

Ongoing services to benefit the community

We continue to provide hard FM services with lifecycle service and energy monitoring at Whitley Bay Customer First Centre.

We make sure that 80% of the FM budget is spent locally to benefit the community. Our maintenance operatives are employed locally, which means there is a genuine local flavour to the services we deliver on site.

We provide added value to North Tyneside through an efficient delivery structure for FM services as well as ongoing sustainable delivery of FM services, that were planned with whole-life costs taken into account.


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