Young people from Newcastle have experienced a busy building site in Byker to help with their studies around the construction industry, thanks to Leazes Homes and Keepmoat.

Students from Northumbria University and pupils from Welbeck Academy in Walker have taken guided tours of The Grove, on the site of the former IRDL factory in Byker, to complement their ongoing studies.

Wellbeck Academy learn Construction

Welbeck Academy learn how to build a brick wall

The Grove is being developed by Keepmoat, and features 80 two and three bedroom homes for sale, as well as twelve bungalows for older people and a 36 bed extra care facility, Lawson House, both of which are owned by Leazes Homes and will be managed by Your Homes Newcastle.

As part of Leazes Homes’ commitment to creating sustainable communities, the organisation regularly seeks to engage those living near to its properties by inviting them to see sites in development. This is echoed in Keepmoat’s adherence to the Considerate Constructors’ Scheme, which builders voluntarily sign up to and which encourages firms to respect the communities they operate in.

First year students from Northumbria University who are studying degrees in either Architectural Technology or Construction Project Management were given a tour of the site by Dave Brown and Dave Watson from Keepmoat and Chair of Leazes Homes, Bill Midgley.

Northumbria University students learn about construction

Northumbria University students learn about construction

This helped inform modules that deal with building technology, design, sustainability, production and site management. They were made aware of project planning and sustainability in a real sense and this will feed directly into some of the coursework and project work they are currently progressing.

Kevin Elliott, Programme Leader for the Architectural Technology degree at Northumbria University said: “We cannot underestimate the use of authentic learning and the exposure of the students to the real work place. It gives a practical basis to their studies which is essential given the vocational nature of the programmes they are following, and starts to give an insight into the overlap of design and construction within development.

Northumbria University students with Bill Midgley and Kevin Elliott outside of Lawson House

Northumbria University students with Bill Midgley and Kevin Elliott outside of Lawson House

“The students saw first-hand how design influences construction and also how central the client is to the whole development process.”

Following the visit by the Northumbria University students, 16 children aged between six and ten from Welbeck Academy took a tour of the site, paying particular attention to the show homes, and had the opportunity to help build a brick wall.

Charlotte Morgan, a teacher at Welbeck Academy, said: “The children thoroughly enjoyed their visit and benefitted hugely from the experience.

“The visit supported our science topic of ‘materials’ very well, as the children were able to experience first-hand all the different materials that are used in house-building.  The visit to the show home also gave the children ideas as to what to put into their own model houses that they are building at school, and having the chance to do some brick-laying was a real highlight.

Wellbeck Academy pupils have the change to build their own wall

Welbeck Academy pupils have the change to build their own wall

“As a teacher, I feel that these educational visits contribute a great deal to learning, as it is these hands-on experiences that turn abstract ideas into a reality for the children.”

The children certainly seemed to agree – with comments such as “All the rooms in the show house were fancy” from pupil Shanzay and “The TV room was beautiful” from pupil Jessica being repeated throughout the visit!

Chair of Leazes Homes, Bill Midgley, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to meet so many young people with an interest in house building and I really enjoyed seeing their enthusiasm for the whole construction process.

“It’s very important that we facilitate those living locally with an interest in our developments so that they can feel more involved, but it’s also vital that we encourage those who want to work in the industry to pursue this and learn as much as they can on a real site.

“The skills gap in the construction industry is well documented, and we all need to play a part in addressing that – I was thrilled to spend time with our next generation of architects, project managers and who knows what else and I look forward to watching their careers progress in the construction industry.”

Wellbeck Academy pupils visit the showhome

Welbeck Academy pupils visit the showhome

Anyone who is interested in buying a home at The Grove, contact Glynis Mooney on 07976 771602. The extra care facility, Lawson House, and six of the bungalows for older people will be provided for those with additional needs – anyone who would like to find out more about these should contact 0191 278 8585 or email  The remaining six bungalows for older people will be promoted via the choice-based lettings portal,