How Sunderland is building its future

November 1, 2018

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, and Patrick Melia, chief executive Sunderland City Council, reflect on vision for Wearside

Tell us about the regeneration that’s happening in Sunderland City Centre.
Graeme: The city is changing fast, and we have a long-term blueprint for growth: ‘Transforming our City, The 3,6,9 Vision’, which sets out how we’ll continue to improve the cityscape, create thousands of new jobs, and boost the city’s cultural impact over the next three, six and nine years.

Major projects include the Vaux development in the city centre, Northern Spire and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP). Work has also started on Sunderland’s exciting new cultural quarter in the city centre. In the last year, the Hilton Hotel at the Stadium of Light, The Fire Station and the new city campus at Sunderland College opened their doors.

Patrick: Over 40 projects are identified in our 3,6,9 Vision covering the economy, connectivity, education, culture and housing, each of which will bring new opportunities for enjoying life, creating jobs, investing in business and tourism, and boosting Sunderland’s profile as the best city in which to live, work, visit and study.

How will these developments impact those living and working in the city?
Graeme: We’re focusing on new jobs, new opportunities, a high quality of life, and strong infrastructure, all of which combine to drive economic growth. We’re busy with game-changing projects such as the International Advanced Manufacturing Park which will bring more than 7000 new jobs and £500m of public and private investment to land close to Nissan.

Patrick: Northern Spire, the stunning new bridge across the River Wear, together with the new road system to the bridge – Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor – will bring many acres of underused land back to life. It’ll cut transport times to and across the city and unlock major regeneration schemes, and more opportunities for the Port of Sunderland when the roads are completed.

Sunderland had one of the best-performing city economies in the country at the end of 2017, ‘vastly outperforming’ other cities in the North East, according to the UK Powerhouse study.

With Northern Spire now open, new city centre developments such as Vaux well underway, new roads and the city’s broadband and cloud platform connectivity outpacing the competition, our city is set to perform even better in the future.

Graeme: Housing is also playing a big part in the city resurgence, while the city is ranked in the top five per cent of local authorities for the quality of the living environment, and 91 per cent of residents are satisfied with their current accommodation. The draft Local Plan aims to deliver 13,410 new homes in Sunderland by 2033, 745 a year will be built with developments planned from Seaburn the city’s stunning seaside resort to Chapelgarth a desirable suburb in the south of the city. There is also a focus for residential development in the ‘urban core’ with Modular housing at Sheepfolds and development opportunities at Sunniside and Vaux.

The Northern Spire recently opened. Why was important to build this bridge and what has been the feedback so far?

Patrick: Northern Spire is a step change in the city’s transport, inward investment potential and quality of life. It defines Sunderland’s ability to combine civic pride and innovation. We have a track record of delivering pioneering projects in partnerships with the private sector, and with Northern Spire, we have excelled ourselves. It is a key gateway to the city, opening up routes which will attract new highly skilled jobs, investors and tourists. The latest figures show that tourists now bring £429m to the city and the new bridge will help to attract even more visitors.

Graeme: Northern Spire is a catalyst for change – it shows everyone that Sunderland is transforming and open for business. The feedback has been terrific from local people, who are at the heart of the new bridge. They chose the name, many thousands have crossed it on foot and by car, and they have been quick to praise the spectacular addition it makes to our cityscape.

Sunderland Council are also involved in the IAMP. At what stage is this project at? And what’s the timeline for its completion?
Graeme: Planning permission was granted for the development of phase one of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in May this year, and now preparatory work has started on-site.

It is a joint venture between Sunderland and South Tyneside Councils, and covers a vast area – 400,000 square metres – which will bring with it £500m of public and private investment and 7000 job opportunities in the next ten to 15 years. The land needed to deliver phase one of IAMP has already been assembled, meaning the site is poised to be transformed quickly.

Patrick: The IAMP is a once-in-a-generation chance to boost not only the Sunderland and South Tyneside economies, but also the growth
of the UK’s high-tech, automotive and advanced manufacturing industries, and help to position the UK as a global player in these fast-growing sectors.

These developments are all part of Sunderland’s Strategic Transport Corridor. How will this improve the connectivity of Sunderland and the wider North East region?
Patrick: The Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC) project is leading the infrastructure investment required to improve the road network around Northern Spire. The new road system will unlock the regeneration potential of locations along the river corridor which have lain dormant since mines and shipbuilding dominated Sunderland.

Graeme: Once the road system is complete the bridge and new roads are likely to have a ‘domino effect’ on surrounding areas, significantly improving investment, attractiveness and the quality of life for residents and commuters alike.Patrick: The city has worked hard to put the pieces in place for sustainable growth – thriving business sectors including automotive, digital, financial and professional services: a growing knowledge economy eco-system attracting highly skilled people to city businesses: new, attractive places to live and spend leisure time: and strong infrastructure. Transport is one of the key drivers of economic growth. Our new roads, bridge, and the revitalised Port of Sunderland are hugely important to the city, region and the UK.

Make it Sunderland
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