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Gilbridge revamp set to move forward

The sale of a distinctive Sunderland building has exchanged, paving the way for the arrival of a dynamic new business centre in the heart of the city. 

North East developer Hanro has exchanged on the purchase of the former Gilbridge Police Station, which will be reimagined as a thriving business hub, catering for a range of SMEs, and renamed The Yard.

Current owner Sunderland City Council agreed the sale which will see the developer push ahead with a comprehensive £3.5million refurb, creating a modern office base for companies of all sizes.  A planning application was approved earlier this year to convert the premises to offices with proposed facilities such as a gym for workers based within the workspace, as well as open business lounge spaces and bookable meeting rooms. 

There are expected to be some changes to the external fascia of the building and work is scheduled to begin this year, to be completed by summer 2022.

The exchange of the building will trigger the demolition of a former cell block to the rear of the property, clearing the way for access and parking.  The sale is the latest in a long line of positive development announcements in and around Riverside Sunderland, which is springing back to life as a mixed-use urban quarter, where people will live, work and play. 

Laura Lloyd, who is leading development on behalf of Hanro, said: “We are thrilled to have secured this building, which stands at the heart of an area that is rapidly transforming into a vibrant destination that will be the workplace for thousands of people over the next decade, and hundreds of new residents. 

“We have ambitious plans that will see this empty building reawakened, creating an office space that is inspiring, exciting and flexible enough to enable growing businesses to take up space and expand in the city.”

She added: “Riverside Sunderland is becoming a vibrant business district, and it’s exciting that we are creating opportunities for ambitious companies to be part of it, and to stand as part of the same community as brands like Ocado and Hays Travel, who have made this their home too.”

The 3,000 sq m building has been earmarked for development since Northumbria Police closed its doors in 2015, and Hanro was confirmed as being the preferred developer for the building last year, after a competitive bidding process.

Hanro - which has invested in excess of £20m in Sunderland over the last 3 years, including the development of retail space in Trimdon Street – plans to develop a range of suites in the building from 45 sqm for rent.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Gilbridge is a building with vast potential, and its position on the edge of Riverside Sunderland, where millions of pounds of investment is transforming the landscape, means that this will establish itself as a vibrant business hotspot.  This building will be an important part of that.” 

More than £250m of development projects are set to be on site at Riverside Sunderland this summer, including a new City Hall, with work expected to get started on the first of two Legal & General offices within weeks, as well as a new multi-storey car park, the new pedestrian crossing over the Wear, and 132 ultra-sustainable homes – the first of 1,000 that will eventually stand on the site.

To stay up to date with the latest developments at Riverside Sunderland, check out www.riversidesunderland.com or follow @RiversideSund on social media.