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Seaburn heritage building plans take next step forward

A heritage landmark in Sunderland has taken a step towards a bright new future, with a listed building application submitted to seek approval on plans that will breathe new life into it.

The Seaburn Tram Shelter, one of three historic buildings being revamped as part of a £850,000 investment from Sunderland City Council and The Coastal Communities Fund, has been earmarked for transformation for some time, with plans afoot to create a new delicatessen that will be sympathetic to the history of the shelter, while creating an attractive addition to the seaside offer.

Now the team behind East Boldon’s award winning Blacks Corner have submitted a listed building application outlining plans for the building, something they are required to do by the council given the shelter’s Grade II status.  The proposals will be considered in the coming weeks, with a decision expected to be made in early 2022, and if they’re given the green light, the team from Blacks Corner will begin work on restoring the building and will start work with the local community to understand how they can contribute to the plans for the important community asset, ensuring it becomes a real focal point and meeting place for residents of – and visitors to – Seaburn.

In their Listed Building application, the team at Blacks Corner – which champions local and home-grown British farm produce through its menu of cheese and charcuterie – have set out plans to undertake a series of sensitive restoration works to the fish-scale roof; the cast iron columns; rainwater goods; and the existing timber frames.  The plans will also enclose the tram shelter by replicating the details and proportions of the existing building, with plans including a delicatessen, an accessible WC, kitchen and servery counter.

Blacks Corner already operates a high-quality eatery and wine bar in South Tyneside, that is a cornerstone of the Boldon community.  The company was revealed as the preferred occupier of the Seaburn Tram Shelter earlier this year, after the council confirmed it planned to breathe new life into the building as part of a wider seaside regeneration scheme that will also see a former toilet block and bay shelter brought back into use.

Councillor Kevin Johnston, dynamic city cabinet member, said: “Our seaside is transforming, and we have to keep investing in it to deliver the vibrant destination residents and visitors want to see.

“Our heritage buildings are important parts of our seaside and we want to preserve the best parts of them, but return them to a modern-day use that will ensure that Seaburn and Roker grow their reputation as attractive places to visit and enjoy.

“Blacks Corner has a deserved reputation for the quality of its offer, and anyone who has seen what they have achieved at Boldon will know that they really have a magnificent way of reinvigorating old buildings in a tasteful, sympathetic way, that protects and preserves the integrity of the space but brings them right up to date.

“This was just one part of our decision to make them the preferred occupier for this building – because we absolutely know they will polish this under-utilised gem and ensure its place as a central community hub, as it once was, is reclaimed.”

He added: “Roker was recently recognised as ‘an exemplar of coastal regeneration’ by The Times, and building on that with further regeneration of heritage buildings like the Tram Shelter, the former Roker Toilet Block on Pier View and the Bay Shelter at Seaburn, will only enhance that.  It’s brilliant news for the seaside.”

The Blacks Corner team were required to submit the Listed Building consent application to secure agreement to make the changes to the building that will restore it into use, although the change of use of the building to an eatery has already been agreed by the council’s Planning Committee.

The income from the lease – which was agreed with the support of Sunderland based commercial property surveyors, Lofthouse and Partners – will support the Sunderland Seafront Trust, which operates the Roker Pier and Lighthouse tours, and the new income will help it to organise a range of seafront events and activities.

The conversion of the old heritage building is part of a wider programme of transformation at Seaburn and Roker, with Sunderland City Council having spent more than £10m on seafront regeneration and improvements over recent years.  The programme includes award-winning environmental and street-scene enhancements helping attract developments such as at Seaburn Stack, the Seaburn Inn and a host of new businesses to Marine Walk.  It’s a key part of the wider transformation of the city, including the city centre, which is attracting hundreds of millions of pounds of investment into Riverside Sunderland.