MILLIONS of pounds in funding has been secured for a new sports facility at a flagship North-East stadium.

The two-storey Regional Performance Centre at the Gateshead International Stadium will integrate community and educational sport facilities with a top-grade training environment for athletes and local people across the region.

Unlike other centres around the country, the stadium centre will be a permanent home to 150 students from Gateshead College's sport and leisure department. It will also be occupied by the English Institute of Sport, bringing the centre into a network of nine national multi-sport elite facilities.

Funded by One NorthEast through the Tyne and Wear Partnership and the Single Regeneration Budget, and Active England, the project will cost in the region of £15m.

Plans for the centre include an 83metre-long athletics hall, designed around the facilities which are required for pole vaulting and sprinting.

Also included at the centre will be an education block and sport science and sports medicine facilities.

There will also be outdoor artificial and grass sport pitches and a floodlit throwing area.

Gateshead Council's cabinet member with responsibility for culture, Councillor John McElroy, said: "The new state-of-the-art facilities will help budding Gateshead athletes, as well as sportsmen and women from across the area to develop their talent and to reach their full potential."

Killingworth-based architects firm FaulknerBrown has been appointed to design the centre.

The firm designed the Manchester Aquatic Centre for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and was consulted on the Sydney Olympic pools,

Phil Hughes, a board member for One NorthEast, said: "Sport is increasingly important in raising the region's profile and economy.

"This was demonstrated recently when the Great North Run was televised all over the world and every bed and breakfast and hotel room was occupied."