New starts for healthy, dynamic and vibrant Sunderland
New starts for Sunderland City Council's next round of investments includes boosts for housing, schools, business, transport, culture and allotments.
The investment projects add up to nearly a quarter of a billion pounds and their details are being examined at the council's next Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 8 December.
Subject to the meeting, the projects will go into the next budget which is decided early in 2021.
The proposals total £223m (£222.793m), of which £77m is expected to come from external funding and £7m is already included in existing plans. This means the council will invest £138m extra in improvements for residents, businesses and visitors. As capital spending, these long-term investments improve city assets and infrastructure and are different from revenue spending which covers yearly running costs for services.
These proposals add to the ambitious investment programme of nearly £500m (half a billion pounds) that the council already has for coming years. This programme is being met with city and external funding, such as Legal & General's £100m commitment to three major buildings on the former Vaux Brewery site as part of the wider Riverside Sunderland regeneration project.
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Graeme Miller said: "These plans demonstrate the ambition that we have for our city. Our City Plan is not a document that has sat on a shelf since we agreed it – we are using it to drive the investment in our great city, to ensure that we can deliver the promises we have made to our residents, businesses and visitors."
New investment plans being outlined at Cabinet include:
• Riverside Sunderland, including the popular plans for the new high-level footbridge over the river (£31m) as a centre piece of the development (links to report below)
• Developing ambitious plans to enhance the cultural offer through the new Culture House (£27.2m) and the Washington F Pit visitor centre (£4.6m)
• Vaux Housing and the Future Living Expo, to showcase regional skills and housing innovation (£38.4m)
• Northern Spire Park investment to develop the site for affordable housing (£23m). The site has already been identified for more than 1,000 homes
• Investment in much-needed supported living for adults (£16m at Willowfields Supported Village) and for those facing homelessness (£7.2m for an Inspiring Futures scheme)
• Investment in transport, such as the redevelopment of Sunderland Station (£28m) and cycling network plans (£5.6m)
• Housing Innovation Construction and Skills Academy, to develop skills for residents in modern methods of construction (£11m)
• Refurbishment of Barnes Junior and Fulwell Junior schools (£5m)
• Further allotment and open space proposals to meet growing demand (£3.5m).
Cllr Miller added: "The scale of these plans is significant, but we are attracting external funding wherever possible and many of these investments will generate an income stream for the council. The investment in housing, for example, will generate income from both sales and rental incomes.
"The current state of the public finances means that we cannot wait for the Government to fund everything. We need to make wise investments in the city, and do so in a way that is financially sustainable and prudent. These proposals do just that."
Subject to the Cabinet and further decision-making, the council's final budget is decided in March 2021.
Because of Covid, the City Council's Cabinet has begun meeting remotely. Meetings can be viewed on the council's YouTube channel. See: City Council YouTube.