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New projects

As 2020 draws to a close, we look ahead to the new developments that will be progressing across Sunderland in 2021.

  1. City Hall and Legal & General’s two new offices

In November 2019, a landmark deal between Sunderland City Council and Legal & General paved the way for three commercial buildings on Riverside Sunderland, a new urban quarter that will connect the transforming city centre with Sheepfolds, which stands in the shadow of the Stadium of Light.

City Hall is the first of the three buildings to take shape on the site, with work advancing well on the public sector hub, which will become the workplace of 2,000 people, including the Sunderland City Council team.  The building was designed by award-winning architects Faulkner Brown, and will be split into two parts, connected by a stunning glass atrium. It is expected to open its doors in Autumn 2021.

Two further commercial buildings will rise from the ground after City Hall. Both are speculative office spaces that will be funded by Legal & General’s £100m investment in the city and will attract more high-value jobs to Sunderland. Work is expected to start on the first in early 2021.

  1. A new pedestrian crossing over the River Wear

Riverside Sunderland sets out an ambitious vision for a stunning new place to live, work and play, both sides of the beautiful River Wear. 

With The Beam - an office space, already standing proudly in place - City Hall and two further offices set to follow; and plans for more public realm and housing to occupy unused space that stands on the cliff’s edge, a new ‘smart’ crossing will also be built, connecting both sides of the river and ensuring that the Riverside Sunderland development can extend to the north side of the river. 

The footbridge will feature state of the art light installations and augmented reality to ensure those crossing enjoy a unique experience as they move between the former Vaux site and Sheepfolds.

  1. The Auditorium 

Standing next to the magnificently restored Old Fire Station and Empire Theatre in the heart of Sunderland’s Cultural Quarter, The Auditorium will add a new dimension to the city’s leisure offer, and is being delivered by Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust, which has secured a £6.25m award from Arts Council England‘s Capital: Large Grants programme, funded by the National Lottery, to build the venue, which marks the final phase of the regeneration of this corner of the city into a culture quarter.

With space for 450 people to enjoy live performances - from music to comedy - this new venue will ensure that the city is able to play host to a greater range of performers, delivering an entertaining evening to all who attend. 

  1. Gilbridge Police Station

The former Gilbridge Police Station - which stands on the edge of the city centre footprint, adjacent to the fast-transforming former-site of the Vaux Brewery, is set to be reimagined with £3.5million of investment. 

Hanro, a North East based developer, confirmed it would be converting the distinctive building into office space, delivering attractive workspace in the heart of the city centre. It is expected that plans will move forward in summer 2021.

  1. Keel Square Holiday Inn

With £4.5million having been ploughed into building Keel Square, an area of public realm that acts as a gateway between the current city centre perimeter and the former Vaux site, Cairn Group is the latest investor to be attracted to Sunderland. 

The North East business is investing £18million to build a Holiday Inn Hotel, that will provide a high-standard of accommodation for Sunderland’s increasing number of business and leisure visitors.

  1. Hillthorn Park

Backed by £60m investment from Legal & General, the site in Washington will to be transformed into a high-quality business park, with nine new commercial buildings rising from the ground in a two-phased development.  

Hillthorn Park could create around 1,600 new jobs in Sunderland attracting industrial, storage and distribution business.  It is expected to create 620,000 sq ft of business premises and plans are due to advance on the 25-hectare site in 2021.

  1. Historic Buildings being brought back to life

A number of significant buildings in the city will have new life breathed into them over the next year, as Sunderland’s  transformation continues apace. 

On the edge of the city centre, Mackie’s Corner is being reinvented, transforming into a vibrant cornucopia of independent businesses. Close by, Sunderland City Council is investing in the Elephant Tearooms, a beautiful old building that will soon become a local history centre, a move that will bring the beauty of this forgotten treasure back into sharp focus. 

The city’s Dun Cow and Peacock pubs have seen their facias restored to their former glory.  And more improvements are planned to the area surrounding the city centre’s Minster during 2021.  

The River Wear Commissioner’s Building, on St Thomas Street, will reopen its doors as a business centre, when private developers complete work to restore it.  And on the edge of the city centre, the old Simpson Street School – which it was feared would be lost after it was damaged by fire earlier this year – is also attracting investment, with a new office space due to complete in early 2021, with Durham architects BDN moving into the space, and eight luxury apartments to open later in the year. 

  1. Seaburn Inn

Inn Collection Group’s Seaburn Inn is rising from the ground, standing next door to the city’s STACK development, with stunning views out to the seaside.    

The three-storey venue will include 40 rooms, a bar and dining area and children’s play park for customers to make use of.  

The award-winning North East developers behind the scheme say they believe staycations will be on the rise over the coming years, something they think holds the opening of The Seaburn Inn in good stead as it prepares to open in spring 2021.

  1. Coastal heritage buildings

As well as the recently opened STACK and Seaburn Inn developments, the seaside is set to see more leisure venues take shape, with an £820,000 investment to regenerate under-used and historic buildings along the Seaburn and Roker promenade.  

Plans will see a former toilet block at Roker, along with the former Bay Shelter and the old tram shelter at Seaburn, transformed into cafés and restaurants, and plans are also in place for 12 beach huts, that will stand just north of House of Zen.  There will also be upgrades to the infrastructure of Seaburn Camp.

The council is leading the scheme and hopes that local businesses will occupy the spaces, adding further exciting new venues to a seaside that is becoming an increasingly attractive place for day-trippers to visit.

  1. Housing developments

Sunderland City Council’s housing strategy set out plans to build more than 7,000 new homes over the next ten years.  And there has been no delay in moving forward.  Housing developers have flocked to Sunderland in recent months, with new schemes popping up across Sunderland, providing a range of homes for all kinds of families.  

Prominent new schemes include Potters Hill, where Miller, Story and Duchy are all developing new homes as well as new coastal communities being created by Avant House and Miller Homes at Seaburn.  The council is working with registered providers Bernicia, Thirteen, Riverside, Gentoo and Karbon to deliver hundreds of affordable new homes across the city, and Sunderland City Council is also delivering on ambitions to develop contemporary new city centre homes on the Riverside Sunderland site, the existing Civic Centre site and at Northern Spire Park, alongside the stunning Northern Spire bridge as well as having started work on the first council houses built in Sunderland for almost 40 years earlier this year.