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Build & Sustainability

£9.1m redevelopment planning approval moves Sunderland closer to carbon neutral status

A £9.1m development project will aid Sunderland’s ambitious plans to become a cleaner and greener city after planners gave it the green light.

Parsons Vehicle Workshop and Depot in Washington is set to be transformed in a contract which will help Sunderland City Council achieve carbon neutral status for Sunderland by 2040.

The existing workshop will be demolished to make way for a brand-new depot building which will house workshop spaces and office accommodation. A fuel station, electric charging hub, and a large barn which can store up to 7,500 tonnes of gritting salt will be constructed, as well as a security gatehouse to service the entrance and lead to fleet, staff and visitor parking facilities.

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “As we move towards our aim of being a carbon neutral city, it is fantastic to expand our capacity for specialist electric and other low carbon emission vehicles.

“At the same time, future-proofing and investing in our depot facilities ensures we can continue to deliver quality frontline services to residents.”

To drive forward Sunderland’s green energy targets, the depot will include solar photo voltaic and battery storage system, which is being match funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) will capture the energy produced by the solar PV – limiting the electricity required from the grid – and provide a charging facility for the councils growing electric vehicle fleet.

Work will begin in Summer 2021 and will be delivered by Esh Construction in partnership with Howarth Litchfield Architects, Portland Consulting Engineers and Desco.

Gary Dobson, Divisional Director at Esh Construction, said: “We’re delighted with the planning outcome and look forward to working with Sunderland City Council, one of our long-standing and valued clients in the region, to deliver this development. It is an exciting time for the city with a number of transformational projects recently unveiled. As a local contractor we will harness the benefits of a strong regional presence and supply chain to deliver quality social and economic value for Sunderland throughout this scheme.”

Howarth Litchfield Director Keith Handy added: “Howarth Litchfield is delighted to have been involved with a project which sets the benchmark on sustainability and the management of local authority fleet vehicles. The facility will not only support the current outgoing fossil fuel vehicles but is also heavily designed around the incoming electrical vehicle fleet both in terms of the vehicles’ everyday maintenance as well as providing a centralised electrical charging hub.”

The development will provide a new strategic asset for Sunderland City Council and will house frontline services for fleet management, highways operations, refuse collection, horticultural services, and seasonal road gritting.

To find out more about Esh Construction, visit