Simpson Street conversion delivers boost for Sunderland

Work to save a much-loved Sunderland building will pump almost £1m into the local economy, as well as creating 10 new construction jobs - including two apprenticeships - and bringing 16 new professional roles to the city, it has been revealed. 

The modernisation of Simpson Street school, which is being led by North East architectural and structural engineering business BDN, is set to deliver a major economic boost for the city and is one of a number of regeneration projects creating opportunities for people and businesses in Sunderland.

The sale of the building and its surrounding grounds completed last night [21 September], in a deal between Sunderland City Council and BDN, and will allow the company to create 10 new construction roles, including taking on two apprenticeships to support with the conversion of the building into eight luxury apartments and an office space where the Durham based business will relocate its 16 strong team. 

Plans for the conversion were approved in August, and now the sale has completed it is full steam ahead on the project, that was warmly welcomed by residents who feared the building may be lost following a blaze earlier this year.

The conversion is expected to cost in the region of £1m and the man at the helm of BDN, Richard Marsden, has said that almost all of the suppliers and contractors engaged on the project are locally based.  Mr Marsden, who was born and raised in the city, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to return this stunning building to its former glory, but it is an added advantage that – in doing so – we can create opportunities for local people and businesses.”

Work on stripping out the Grade II listed building is complete, and repairs are set to be carried out to the roof of the building, which will ensure that there is no further weather damage caused following a blaze earlier this year that left the Deptford building exposed to the elements.  Major refurbish work will follow, that will restore the stunning old school.

It is thought that BDN will complete its office conversion first – expected to be ready for the company moving in later this year – before developing the planned eight apartments – Simpson Street Lofts - which will be completed by summer 2021.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Building community wealth is at the heart of our mission as a council – and we do that by attracting investment that creates jobs and opportunities for local people and businesses.

“Simpson Street is a tremendous example of a project that is repaying the city over and over – attracting a business to relocate here, invest in a building and create new jobs and also build stunning new homes for people living here.  We’re delighted to see this moving forward.”