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Simpson Street School

Simpson Street School will be saved, council confirms

A much-loved Sunderland building, that was damaged by fire earlier this week, will be saved, council bosses have confirmed.

Assessments have been underway on the former Simpson Street School in Deptford, since a blaze broke out at the empty property on Tuesday evening. It was feared the Grade II listed building – which is currently owned by the local authority - would be damaged beyond repair, however checks carried out over the course of the week have shown that it is not beyond rescue.

Earlier this week it was revealed that the council was on the verge of agreeing the sale of the building to a private investor before it was ravaged by fire. 

The council has confirmed that the investor – a North East based business – has indicated it remains committed to bringing the school back to life and will continue to work with the council to agree a deal – thought to be unchanged from that being discussed before the fire. 

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The old Simpson Street School is a magnificent building and the strength of sentiment from residents after the blaze showed that is very much-loved.  We were committed to finding investment to bring it back to life before the fire, and our will to do that remains.    

“We are delighted that we can continue talks with a North East business that is keen to take on the building and bring it back into use, and we hope to be able to move forward quickly to secure a deal that will restore and revive this beautiful property.”

Structural engineers were able to access the building on Thursday, and are preparing a full report.  However, it is understood there was significant damage to one of the building’s staircases which will now need to be fully replaced. Part of the roof of the building has also been affected by the fire but the majority of the fire damage caused was isolated and much of the building remains unscathed.

The council has confirmed that the developer has plans to convert the building into a mixed-use scheme, comprising housing and commercial space, which will have to be passed through normal council planning processes.