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Business & Economy

Council snaps up historic Sunderland AFC building

A historic Wearside building, which was a key location in the formation of Sunderland AFC, is to be protected and revitalised after being acquired by Sunderland City Council.

The Norfolk Hotel, which is located on the corner of Norfolk Street, is the latest in a series of ‘strategic acquisitions’ by the council as it looks to ensure that Sunderland’s most striking buildings are protected and preserved.

The historic building — which at the time was home to the British Day School — was the location of a meeting between local schoolteachers in 1879, who would go on to create Sunderland and District Teachers’ Association, which would go on to become Sunderland AFC.

The building has fallen into a poor state of repair in recent years, and the council plans to revive the building, and boost its contributions to the local economy.

The news comes following the acquisition earlier this year of the Elephant Tea Rooms, as well as a number of other redevelopment projects such as Mackie’s Corner, the River Wear Commissioners Building and two other historic buildings in the Cultural Quarter.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The Norfolk Hotel is a special building, and has fantastic heritage as the founding place of the city’s beloved football club, but it has — for some years — become a forgotten asset and a magnet for problems.

“Our historic buildings deserve to be protected, and it is incumbent on us to do that. Millions of pounds were — rightly — invested in Sunniside, and it went some way towards creating a vibrant new part of the city centre.

“The redevelopment of the Norfolk Hotel will allow us to breathe a new lease of life into this corner of the city, and we’re working with private investors to explore plans that will support new jobs and bring more footfall to local bars, restaurants and stores in the surrounding streets.

“It’s great news and we can’t wait to bring this spectacular old building back to life.”

The plans form part of the council’s £500 million city centre vision, with wider city investment totalling more than £1.5 billion leading up to 2030.

Councillor Miller added: “As leader of the council, I made a commitment when I was appointed just 18 months ago to deliver a brighter future for Sunderland, but that’s not just about new developments. It’s about preserving what we have and bringing old buildings back to life.

“Central to this is protecting our most historic buildings and ensuring they are restored to their fullest potential.”