Work on Sunderland's stunning new Beacon of Light will start within days after charity trustees gave the project the formal go-ahead.
The new development, next to the Stadium of Light, Work on the site, will include education, sport and training facilities and it is expected more than 300,000 people will make use the building's activity zones for education, the world of work, health and wellbeing, sport and play.
The Foundation of Light, Sunderland AFC’s official charity, wants the building to use “the power of football to inspire people and change lives,” helping people gain skills and qualifications, and with teams working with families and aiming to re-energise communities.
Planning permission for the project was granted last year.
Now the Foundation's trustees have formally approved the start of building work.
Developer Tolent Construction is expected to move onto site during the week.
Chairman Sir Bob Murray CBE said: "The Beacon of Light will be a first for the Foundation and for the region, so we’re thrilled to be moving on site and starting
work this week.
"We are immensely grateful to our patrons, benefactors, sponsors and supporters for backing us. It has been heartening to work with so many likeminded people who share
values, and who want to make a lasting difference to people in the northeast.
"Their vision and generosity will inspire many more people to learn more, do more and be more, and will change countless lives."
The striking cube-shaped development will be the first building of its kind in the country and house education and training facilities with an indoor football pitch above.
On entering, visitors will be presented with a busy street along which the various activities will interconnect. Inspirational and motivational zones for education, the world of work, health
and wellbeing, sport and play will combine together with excellent views into a sports arena.
Foundation CEO Lesley Spuhler OBE added: "Working with a very talented design team from the North East including project managers Identity Consult and architects Faulkner
Browns the construction programme has been cleverly developed in two phases.
"We are starting preliminary works as well as the substantive elements of the building now and will complete the programme when we have finalised the phase 2 funding.
"The Foundation has already raised a large proportion of the £18million build costs and we are confident we will secure the remaining £3million in the coming months."
Trustee Sir Tim Rice said, “The Trustees of the Foundation were unanimous in their backing to the move on site this week.
"The Beacon, like the Foundation, will be pioneering in its approach and aspirations, and this is why it has already captured the attention of so many people and institutions from sports governing bodies, to educationalists, politicians and the business community.”
"It will be a landmark destination delivering a meaningful and lasting legacy and it will represent a significant step change for the charity in terms of what we will be able to deliver in the future."