WORK is due to begin on a £100m project to create a university campus in an ambitious city centre development.

Northumbria University has revealed plans to move its design, law and business schools to the former Warners Cinema site in the Manors area of Newcastle.

All three departments will move to the seven-acre site in September 2007, following the acquisition by the university last year.

The total development, including the refurbishment of buildings on the existing campus, will cost £102.9m - the university's largest-ever investment programme.

Work to demolish the cinema will start in early summer, with building likely to begin in November.

A bridge spanning the central motorway will link the university's two sites and provide access into the city centre, while Northumberland Road will be pedestrianised to create a public space for events, open days, exhibitions and cafes.

The second stage of development, due for completion in 2008, will see the refurbishment of buildings on the existing university site following the relocation of the schools.

The three departments were chosen because of their potential for growth, student demand and current restrictions on space, the university said.

Vice-chancellor Professor Kel Fidler, said: "Around 25,000 students already study at our two campuses in Newcastle: 3,000 of these students come to Northumbria from overseas making a major contribution to the cultural and economic vibrancy of the city.

"Over the next five years, we expect an additional 3,000 full time students, so there is an urgent need for more space."