Sea-change in Sunderland

September 3, 2020

It’s hard to escape news coming out of one of the most exciting urban developments in the region. Backed by a £100 million investment from Legal & General, North East Times discovers more about Sunderland’s new city centre development, Riverside Sunderland, that is taking shape at lightning pace

It all started with The Beam. The first building to rise from the ground on the former Vaux Brewery site, which stands on a cliff ’s edge overlooking the Wear. And with a stunning masterplan revealed, that sees both sides of

the river connected – springing back to life with offices, public spaces, leisure spaces and homes – Riverside Sunderland is building a head of steam.

According to Peter McIntyre, executive director of city development at Sunderland City Council, “Riverside Sunderland will be transformational.

“It’s a place where people will be able to live, work and play. But importantly, right now, it’s a place where businesses want to invest.”

‘Invest’ really is the watchword. Sunderland City Council’s own confidence – building The Beam speculatively; having the belief and conviction to put a £20 million stake on its success – has sparked a blazing trail.

Buoyed by the backing of Ocado, the council developed a masterplan to reinvent the heart of Sunderland and sold the vision to Legal & General, which was so convinced by Sunderland’s mettle that it put £100 million on the table – the single biggest investment in the city in decades.

“The Legal & General deal was hugely significant. When a city attracts the attention of one of the world’s largest investment managers, it creates a buzz of confidence that sends ripples through the investment world.

“Having this backing is generating unprecedented interest in Sunderland. And
it’s catapulted development projects that will absolutely transform Riverside Sunderland from baron land into a vibrant hotbed of business.”

Legal & General’s commitment will deliver three buildings on the site. City Hall topped out
in August and more announcements are expected soon about two further buildings that will stand to the north of the new civic hub.

Peter continues: “Legal & General’s backing not only delivers buildings that between them provide 300,000 sq ft of Grade A office space, but it supercharges plans to transform the city centre,
creating a magnet destination that will attract more people to live, work and play here.”

Part of the vision for the area is more and better city centre homes.

“The idea is to boost the number of people living and working in the heart of the city,” the executive director explains. “We want to double the resident population of the city centre from 2500 to 5000 and increase employment by 50 per cent to 18,000. With that will come spending power to bolster the city centre – strengthening both the city’s daytime and nighttime economies.”

Ground investigation work started in July to assess a plot of land that has been earmarked for housing. Plans are yet to be revealed for the site, but Peter insists it is a vital part of the vision.

“The investment we have attracted represents a huge step forward, but there’s more to come. We are determined to create the healthy, dynamic and vibrant city our residents deserve and want to see, and we will keep building on each success.

“There’s a sea-change in Sunderland, and Riverside Sunderland is at the forefront of it.”

Riverside Sunderland – Sunderland City Council

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