The evolution of Sunderland city centre is set to continue with a host of public realm works in the Minster Quarter.
Sunderland City Council will invest around £1.5m enhancing High Street West between The Peacock Pub and Low Row, complementing recently completed work at Minster Park and Garden Place.
The schedule of works will include high-quality paving, street furniture and a new crossing point between Minster Park and Garden Place.
Sunderland City Council leader, Councillor Graeme Miller, said: “We are driving forward a programme of development works across Riverside Sunderland the scale of which has not been seen in generations, and it is vital that these huge investments are joined up and connect into the wider footprint of our city centre.
“This work will link the fantastic recent improvements made to Garden Place and Minster Park and create a beautiful city centre corridor leading into Keel Square and the incredible development we’re driving around the square, the former Gilbridge Police Station and Vaux site, as well as our £80m plans for Crowtree.
“It will provide the city with attractive, wider footpaths, creating additional opportunities for pavement cafes, and help provide places for people to meet in and enjoy this stunning section of the city. It will also make it a more attractive environment for shoppers and visitors by reducing the dominance of the road through this busy area.”
The work is set to begin in late March and is expected to be completed in the Autumn. The council will be working with local businesses potentially impacted by the work to minimise disruption and ensure they can all remain open and continue to thrive.
The Minster Quarter has undergone an incredible transformation in recent years. Garden Place provides a picturesque new pathway from St Mary’s Boulevard into High Street West and the Minster Park. Improvements include the planting of semi-mature trees, placement of reclaimed cobbled setts quarried from Dun Cow Street, and large planters and seating to create a focal point for people passing through.
At the beginning of February, the council unveiled its proposed investment programme, which includes proposals for a multi-million-pound arena at the former Crowtree Leisure Centre site. The new investments will increase the authority’s investment programme to more than £627 million over the next four years.
Cllr Miller added: “The fantastic work to regenerate and reinvigorate Minster Park has been used as a launchpad for the stunning transformation of this part of the city, which we will keep going across the entire city centre.
“The rebirth of Sunderland is well underway and it’s there for anyone visiting the city to see. Just walk from Minster Park to Garden Place past the restored Dun Cow, Fire Station, Auditorium and rejuvenated Peacock, into Keel Square, where you can see The Beam, City Hall, work at the old Gilbridge Police Station – there is not a city in the UK outside London undergoing such dramatic, positive change.”
Around £0.5bn of investment will flow into Riverside Sunderland alone this year, with the project, spearheaded by the city council, promising to transform the banks of the Wear, link both sides of the river and enhance vast sections of the city centre. Spanning 33.2 hectares, the project will create a 10,000-job, one million sq ft business district, 1,000 sustainable homes and the UK’s first carbon-neutral urban quarter.
The former Vaux Brewery site is becoming a huge commercial hub, including flagship buildings The Beam and new City Hall, funded as part of a £100 million Legal & General investment. The masterplan also includes a £36m 90,000 sq ft eye hospital and two additional L&G-funded commercial buildings, a further 200,000sq ft of space. Plans also progress for Culture House, an immersive library in Keel Square, a new pedestrian footbridge and additional parking for people living, working or visiting the city.