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Arts & Culture

STACK leisure hub in the pipeline for Sunderland seaside

Sunderland seaside could become home to a stunning new leisure hub, as part of a wider plan to regenerate the area.

Details of the first of a series of leisure developments planned for Seaburn have been revealed, with the company behind one of the region’s most successful concept venues ready to make a planning and licensing application that could see it open its doors at the city’s seaside resort.

Danieli Holdings, the company behind Newcastle’s hugely successful STACK, is set to submit applications for a leisure space, that could see it trading in the city by the end of this year.

The leisure operator has been working closely with the team at Sunderland City Council to advance its plans for the site.  It is one of a number of operators that the council  has attracted to the area, with more announcements expected to follow.

Feedback from early masterplans for Seaburn showed that residents were looking for a more leisure-focused mixed-use development, and  plans are being drawn up for a scheme that will include a number of leisure operators. The council has also pushed for the provision of new car parking facilities and public realm works, including the re-provision of play facilities and seating on the site to make it a destination of choice for families.

If given the green light, STACK will stand on land opposite Seaburn’s promenade, creating a vibrant new seaside space that will deliver food, drink and family-orientated entertainment, including a range of indoor and outdoor activities, like crazy golf, darts, pool, table tennis and many more, all using the traditional method of playing the various games with an electronic twist, a brand-new concept for the North East. The company has also included a function room towards the back of the scheme, suitable for gatherings and events of all kinds, but with a particular focus towards the alternative wedding market, complete with its very own secret bridal suite for the Bride and Groom.

Neill Winch, director at Danieli Holdings, who was born and raised in Sunderland, said: “The STACK concept is about creating vibrant, flexible spaces that can be enjoyed by everyone.  Much like Newcastle, we want this STACK to be a relaxed, creative environment, with activities, food, drinks and music that appeals to people of all ages – given we’ll be on the seaside, we’ll be gearing the offer towards families, to give them a space that will keep little ones entertained just as much as it will adults.

“This will be a great addition to Sunderland’s seaside, and something we are incredibly proud to be bringing to the area.”

Created using a ‘stack’ of shipping containers, that are assembled to make an enclosed village that can operate in all weather conditions, the plans for the development will deliver what bosses describe as a ‘destination creative, social hub, that will surprise and delight people of all ages’.

Architect designs for Seaburn’s STACK show a predominantly two-storey structure, with a small three-storey section on the front elevations, built using shipping containers, that will include an decked area on the first floor, perfect for sunny days by the sea, and a ground floor that will be animated with performers taking to a central stage, with a range of food and drink providers and leisure activities.

“The seaside should be a fun, family-centred place to play and enjoy, and that’s what we hope The STACK will bring.  And with the potential to create a relaxing place for people to listen to live music, sample tasty street-food and sit back with a couple of drinks, as well as provide a programme of seasonal events we think it will breathe new life into the seaside, and benefit traders close by too, with the increased footfall we expect it to attract in the area,” added Neill.

Though the company is associated with Newcastle, having opened the first STACK on Tyneside in August last year, Neill explained that he and his fellow directors have long-harboured ambitions to bring their concept-venue to Sunderland.

“We have been really keen to move forward with a STACK development in my home-city of Sunderland for some time, so we’re delighted to be able to agree a deal that will see us open our doors in Seaburn.

“Sunderland is becoming ever-more ambitious and we can see that there is huge opportunity here.  We’re really looking forward to turning our plans into reality.”

The development – which will come with a seven-and-a-half-year lease – is the first addition to Seaburn seafront to be announcement, with more expected to follow.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “We are delighted STACK are keen to come to Sunderland.

“It’s a fantastic concept that has worked brilliantly in Newcastle, and I have no doubt will prove just as popular in Seaburn if it is approved when it goes to planning committee.

“The city council has been working hard to shape plans for the area.  We have listened to and responded to feedback from residents and we know that people really do want to see a strong leisure offer on their seafront – somewhere that they can visit as a family and enjoy.  As part of a wider programme of investment planned in Roker and Seaburn, we are delivering this – transforming our seaside into a more vibrant, lively and contemporary place for people from the city and beyond to come and enjoy.

“Add this to emerging plans to regenerate historic buildings at the seafront and phase two of Pier Point at Roker, and you can see that the seaside will become the jewel in the crown of a city that is resurgent, with £1.5billion of investment delivering sweeping changes.”

Last month, Sunderland’s seaside received a £820k cash boost, with proposals to regenerate under-used and historic buildings along the Seaburn and Roker promenade.  Plans will see a former toilet block at Roker, along with the former Bay Shelter and the old tram shelter at Seaburn, transformed into cafés and restaurants, and plans are also afoot for 12 beach huts, that will stand just north of Fat Buddha. There will also be upgrades to the infrastructure of Seaburn Camp to make it better for touring caravans.

Patrick Melia, the city council’s chief executive, who oversaw the development of Spanish City in North Tyneside in his former role as chief executive of the borough’s council, added: “Sunderland has vast potential, and I am working with members of the council to ensure that we unlock that.  This is one part of an exciting city-wide plan, to create a healthy, dynamic and vibrant place to live, work, study, invest and play.”