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CGIs of how the ultra-sustainable developments could look

Plans for the first of 1,000 ultra-sustainable smart homes to be built on Riverside Sunderland’s former Vaux brewery site, are moving forward.

A planning application for the first 132 properties - a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom new homes - on land overlooking the city riverside, has been submitted to Sunderland City Council.

The application sets out proposals for the first tranche of housing on the site, which is due to be completed by 2023, in time for the Sunderland Future Living Expo, a public event that will showcase a new way of city living and the transformation of Riverside Sunderland into a vibrant new place to live.

The planning application for 91 houses and 41 apartments designed by architects Proctor & Matthews and MawsonKerr is expected to go before the planning committee in spring 2021.  The scheme – which is being managed by igloo Regeneration on behalf of the council - will provide spacious eco-friendly smart homes, built using modern methods of construction, that will include a variety of amenity spaces, including terraces, courtyards and communal gardens.  

The scheme represents the start of one of the four attractive new communities that will rise from the ground over the next decade, with construction of the 132 homes expected to start on site in summer 2021.

The ambition is to create a world-class new place to live in the heart of the city, with Riverside Sunderland eventually becoming home to 2,500 new residents and 10,000 workers, who will bring with them spending power that will boost the economic fortunes of the city centre.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is a hugely exciting step forward for a site that we have an absolute determination to transform into a vibrant mixed-use destination that is a world-class place to live, work and play.

“The transformation of the Riverside Sunderland site has been rapid, with The Beam and City Hall having created a new cityscape.  We expect work will start very soon on a further high-quality commercial office space, led by Legal and General who committed £100m to Riverside Sunderland last year.  These new homes will compliment all of that, adding a vital new dimension to this important part of our city centre.”

The scheme will also see the creation of Kingsley Gardens, a community growing area with orchards and allotments on the edge of Galley’s Gill, that will encourage health and wellbeing and will be an essential asset in supporting local residents to live active lifestyles. Indigenous species of planting and wildlife that thrive in coastal and tidal locations like this will animate the surrounding landscape.

igloo Regeneration’s chief executive, Peter Connolly, said: “These homes set a precedent for the quality of housing to be delivered in UK cities. The homes will not only transform the feel of the place and create a new neighbourhood in Sunderland, but they will also be a shining example of how working closely with a community can create a mix of housing that reflects the rich fabric of the community and the scale of their ambition.

“All eyes will be on Sunderland in 2023 when we host the Future Housing EXPO and these homes will be presented as examples of next generation, zero carbon living in tech-enabled smart homes. I look forward to homeowners and visitors enjoying the streetscapes brought alive by the planned rewilding. Looking out of the windows at feeding birds and listening to the sounds as you walk through an area will all add to that crucial sense of health and wellbeing.”

Andrew Matthews, Founding Director at Proctor and Matthews Architects, said: “Our proposal for the new Vaux housing will create a new vibrant 21st-century urban quarter. Our design avoids the ubiquitous perimeter block model which has become the default position of many recent urban city plans; instead our design looks more carefully at regional and historic patterns of development to create a new hierarchy of streets, squares and mews, providing spaces for social interaction. Drawing on the city’s historic industrial skyline, the Vaux masterplan captures the river Wear’s dramatic topography and looks to create a new distinctive boundary to the River’s south bank right at Sunderland’s heart.

“A range of housing types are proposed to support a diverse community including young families and professionals, as well as key workers and the elderly. All the homes are designed to meet 21st Century living patterns including plans that can adapt to future change, provide for home working and a variety of both private and shared amenity space. The housing will also meet stringent sustainable targets employing modern methods of construction to meet high thermal standards and dramatically cut carbon both in construction and in energy use.”

Will Mawson, Director at MawsonKerr Architects, added: “The team at MawsonKerr are proud to be involved in this first phase of housing as part of the Riverside Sunderland Masterplan. The project ambition; to create sustainable, low carbon homes incorporating varied and innovative layouts, aligns closely to our practice ethos. This milestone is an important moment in the history of the site with a new urban district of homes designed specifically for Vaux and  Sunderland. Given the nature of the promontory site and the scale of the city quarter, the proposal has a strong character developed with an exemplar team of designers and consultants.”

Alongside the new homes, proposals for a £31million ‘smart’ footbridge are also moving forward, as council bosses look to improve connectivity between the city centre and the north side of the Wear.

The vision for Riverside Sunderland will see both sides of the river brought back to life with exciting new places to live, work and play, that will create a vibrant city centre, with more than 10,000 people expected to live and work in the area over the next decade.

Cllr Miller added: “We are pushing forward with our plans at lightning pace to ensure that the benefits are felt as quickly as possible, and that we drive a step change in the city centre.”

As well as plans for the Riverside Sunderland area, the council announced at the end of November that it is looking to deliver a £27m improvement programme focused on the train station, including demolition and reconstruction of a new southern concourse to improve the welcome point for visitors travelling by train.

The council’s masterplan for Riverside Sunderland, which was unveiled in October, includes a range of projects that will transform the heart of the city.  Key highlights include:

  • One million sq ft of modern office space, in a new central business district, providing 8-10,000 new jobs
  • a new city centre site for a major life sciences / healthcare facility
  • Plans for a state-of-the-art library and community hub – the Culture House - that will attract 600,000 visitors a year to a new site in Keel Square
  • The upgrading of St Mary’s Boulevard into a stylish new city street
  • Transformation of Galley’s Gill into a superb landscape park, and new green spaces in the heart of the city
  • Smart City infrastructure, that will make Sunderland an even better place to live, work and play.

To find out more about Riverside Sunderland, and to keep up to date with the latest developments, visit www.riversidesunderland.com.