News

Developer selected for civic centre site

The Developer that will take forward plans for a stunning new residential community in the heart of Sunderland is expected to have its bid agreed by the city council next week. 

Vistry Partnerships North East has been selected as the preferred developer for the creation of an exciting new neighbourhood at the civic centre site on Burdon Road, which will be vacated by Sunderland City Council later this year. 

The construction, housebuilding and regeneration specialist, which is already delivering a housing scheme in Ayton, Washington, submitted the strongest bid to acquire the site and the council’s cabinet is expected to approve the conditional sale of the land when it meets next week. 

As well as offering the best value for the land, Vistry’s proposal most closely aligned with the council’s  vision and aspirations for the redevelopment of the site, where its offices were constructed in the late 1960s. 

It will comprise a mixed tenure community of around 275 homes, including a significant provision of much needed affordable housing.  The modern and spacious properties will range from one to four bedrooms, with many homes benefitting from views across Mowbray Park and will be sold by Vistry’s housing brand Linden Homes.  

The scheme will include attractive areas of formal and informal amenity space and enhanced pedestrian and multi-user links to the city centre, Ashbrooke and Mowbray Park. Of particular note is a proposal to recreate Saint George’s Square – bomb damaged during the Second World War and lost to redevelopment in the 60s – with the Grade II listed Saint George’s House as the focal point. The architecture and streetscape will be sensitive to the parkside location and the Ashbrooke Conservation Area.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “We’re delighted to have attracted such a strong field of proposals from developers who see the vast potential of this prominent city centre site. 

“Its position, among a prestigious residential community, means that when this site is developed out, it will deliver a stunning new place to live that increases city centre population and footfall, supporting the daytime and evening economy.  We’re looking forward to seeing this site transformed into an attractive place to live, and playing its part in driving the development of a more dynamic, prosperous city centre, bringing more spending power into the heart of Sunderland.”

It is expected that – if the land sale is approved – Vistry will submit a planning application for the homes in late autumn and that demolition of the old Civic Centre could get underway in early 2022.

Sean Egan, Managing Director with Vistry Partnerships North East, added: "We are delighted that our bid  to create a modern new community, whilst enhancing the green links to other important parts of the city has been so well received by the council.

“We aim to create an attractive new residential quarter that sits comfortably within the surrounding architecture, with a focus on green space that encourages community use.  It will be a fantastic new inclusive neighbourhood with its own distinctive character, providing a new housing offer on the edge of Ashbrooke and Mowbray Park whilst benefiting from the close proximity to the city centre.”

The civic centre redevelopment is part of a wider plan to build more than 7,000 new homes across the city by 2030.  This will ensure that Sunderland has the volume and variety of homes it needs to attract and retain a diverse range of residents.

Among other housing developments moving forward across the city are new coastal communities being created by Avant Homes and Miller Homes at Seaburn; attractive family homes being delivered by Miller Homes, Story Homes, and Bellway at Potters Hill / Burdon Rise, a £40m scheme delivered by Karbon Homes in North Hylton and a £400m plus plan by Gentoo to invest in its existing stock, as well as a significant new affordable homes programme.

Sunderland City Council is also delivering on ambitions to develop contemporary new city centre homes on the Riverside Sunderland 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 the city for almost 40 years, earlier this year.

The council announced plans to relocate from its current base to Riverside Sunderland in 2019 and work commenced on Sunderland City Hall later that year.  The move will enable the council to deliver services from a modern environment, where residents can access a range of services under one roof

Bringing together a range of public sector partners, that will work from the 190,000sq ft office space, city hall is being funded by institutional investor Legal & General, which is also working with developer Landid, to build two speculative offices that will stand on adjacent plots. 

Legal & General credited the council’s  vision for Riverside Sunderland as being the reason for its  investment in the city and has since committed a further £60m to Hillthorn Park in Washington, which will soon be home to a number of high-quality industrial units.