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The Last Word: Rick Marsden, managing director of Building Design Northern

Closing this edition of North East Times Magazine, Rick Marsden, managing director of Sunderland-based architecture and engineering firm Building Design Northern, looks at some of the upcoming developments across the city and wider region, and highlights how the company is leading the way in sustainable construction.

There have been plenty of announcements and plans for new building projects and schemes in Sunderland over the last couple of years, with a new skyline starting to take shape across Wearside. What can we look forward to seeing and opening in the region over the coming months?

The Riverside masterplan, in particular the Vaux Housing scheme, promises to deliver some high- quality homes to Sunderland city centre.

Work on the new Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy has also started, with the facility set to champion education around modern methods of construction, to close the skills gap and create a new generation of housing and construction innovators in the North.

At Building Design Northern (BDN), we have the Sheepfolds Stables development opening this year, with some of the region’s finest operators lined up.

They include Si King, from the Hairy Bikers; Tam Hassan, who won Gordon Ramsey’s ‘The F Word’; and Vittorio Farigu, who was head chef at Gino D’Acampo’s restaurants, who will be opening Vito’s Osteria.

We have also recently gained planning consent on a commercial development of 125,000sq ft of industrial space in Hendon.

This is for 19 industrial units, a stone’s throw from Port of Sunderland, which we will be bringing to site in the spring.

Without a doubt, though, the talk of the town is the new film studios development, led by Fulwell 73.

If approved and backed by the Government, the development could see a wave of new employment in a sector the region could hugely benefit from.

BDN has been at the forefront of many of these initiatives and projects, with many other local companies contributing too. How good is this for Sunderland, the region’s businesses and the local economy?

Local companies are paramount in the development of city planning. They represent the voice of the city’s residents, and are usually aligned to what the city needs and to developing local ecosystems too.

This helps retain the authenticity of a place, and is the heartbeat of any good city.

There are so many excellent local organisations helping to change the face of Sunderland and investing in themselves too, but that only happens when they can see ambitious leadership.

And we have that in Sunderland, with the likes of Hays Travel, Gentoo, Re:Gen Group and BRIMS Construction.

We know from last year’s Sunderland Expo that the city and its many partners and businesses are keen to lead the way in creating sustainable cities for the future. Are we seeing proof Sunderland is at the forefront of that in the UK?

It is evident, when the likes of corporate brands such as Nissan, Microsoft and Velux become involved in the process, that great things are happening.

Backed by a really forward-thinking council, proof isn’t just on the drawing board, it is actually coming out of the ground.

You only need to look at the number of cranes in the sky and building work to be convinced.

And if the development of the new film studios with Fulwell 73 comes to light, then I think we are in for an even more exciting period.

LinkedIn: Building Design Northern

March 6, 2024

  • Ideas & Observations

Created by North East Times