RS Sunderland footbridge

A footbridge that will connect Sunderland city centre to the Stadium of Light is set to take an important step forward this week.  

An application is expected to be made to Government to gain permission to progress with a pedestrian bridge, that will connect the former Vaux Brewery site to the south of the river with Sheepfolds to the north.  

Cabinet will meet on Tuesday and are set to agree to make the bid to Government, and - assuming legal permissions are granted - Sunderland City Council can then progress with detailed design work for the crossing before seeking local planning consent.

The bridge is a centrepiece of a delivery plan that was released in October, and that sets out how Riverside Sunderland – comprising the former Vaux site, Farringdon Row, Galleys Gill, High Street West and Sheepfolds - will transform over the coming decade.  

A programme for delivering the bridge was set out in the Masterplan, with the bridge expected to be completed by 2023.

Plans for the bridge were welcomed by SAFC captain, Max Power, as well as club legend Jimmy Montgomery.  It is expected that the bridge will be of a similar height to the Wearmouth Bridge, and will not reduce clearance for river traffic.

Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller, said: “We’ve had some fantastic expressions of support for this crossing, which will boost connectivity between the north and south of the river, something that is key as we look to develop the whole Riverside Sunderland site into a vibrant place to live, work and play.  

“By moving to the next stage, and seeking permission from the Government, we can ensure that we are on track to deliver this important piece of infrastructure for the city by 2023.

"It was a similar process with the Northern Spire as legal permissions for bridges over navigable waters go beyond standard planning procedures. The new bridge permissions are further key decisions for Riverside Sunderland and our City Plan for a more dynamic, healthy and vibrant Sunderland."

The footbridge is currently proposed to have a minimum height of 25 metres (82ft).

It is just one part of the comprehensive Riverside Sunderland Masterplan, which aims to build on some of the significant developments already underway in the city centre.  With The Beam open and home to a range of businesses; City Hall, the Auditorium and a new Holiday Inn at Keel Square all progressing at pace; and plans coming forward for two further office spaces and a residential community on the former Vaux Brewery site, the bridge is the latest project moving forward on Riverside Sunderland.  

Described as ‘the most exciting regeneration site in Britain’, the Riverside Sunderland Masterplan captures a number of ground-breaking projects to reimagine this part of the city, mapping out a number of significant developments that will regenerate this 33.2 hectare site, creating the UK’s first carbon-neutral urban quarter, building 1,000 new homes and creating office space for up to 10,000 workers. 

Underpinned by a £100m investment commitment from Legal & General – part of their combined £160m pledge to this and one other site in the city – the key features of the masterplan include: 

  • 1,000 sustainable homes to rent and buy, in four stunning neighbourhoods housing 2,500 residents
  • One million sq ft of modern office space 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 main street
  • Transformation of Galley’s Gill into a 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.

In 2023, Riverside Sunderland will also host the month-long Future Living Expo, a high-profile event which will showcase life in the new urban quarter.  UK and international visitors will be drawn to the first of the new neighbourhoods on the former Vaux Brewery site.

To find out more about about the Riverside Sunderland Masterplan, and to keep up to date with the latest developments, visit or search @Riversidesund on social media.