September 10, 2020 @ 10:38 by Richard Dawson
Plans have been submitted for the redevelopment of a former colliery site, which has stood empty for 40 years.
The land around Houghton Colliery, which opened in the late 18th century and closed in 1981, was sold to Washington-based Hellens Group last year as part of a £15 million retail scheme.
Now, proposals submitted for planning approval reveal the company’s ambition to bring a number of major new retailers to Houghton town centre.
The development could create a significant number of new retail jobs, as well as opportunities for local people and businesses during the construction phase.
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is a significant investment that will be transformational for the Houghton area, bringing with it jobs for local people and an enhanced retail offer for the town.
“Importantly, it will complement the existing offer in the area, creating a more compelling reason for people to shop locally in Houghton, which is vital to support the businesses that are already operating in the area.”
The site will see the development of 3,600 sq mts of new retail space. If plans are approved, it is expected that work on the scheme could begin by Spring 2021.
Gavin Cordwell-Smith, chief executive of Hellens Group, added: “We are delighted to be moving forward with the proposals for a new retail development in Houghton-le-Spring to complement the existing retail offer.
“The local residents have been waiting for a number of years to see something happen on the site. As a Sunderland-based company we are pleased to be able to invest in the local area.
“We hope to attract some well-known brands to the site and enhance the existing shopping offer for the residents of Houghton-le-Spring and the surrounding areas.
“Subject to obtaining planning permission, we are looking forward to seeing this development commence on site.”