Work well underway to create Sunderland culture quarter

Work has begun on the Old Fire Station
Work has begun on the Old Fire Station
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Listed building specialists are well underway with the renovation of the Old Fire Station into an arts and culture hub.

After securing the £3million contract, Keepmoat has begun the transformation of the former city centre fire station into a cafe and restaurant on the ground floor and dance, drama and music studios and a heritage centre on the upper floors.

A model of how the fire station will look

A model of how the fire station will look

Keepmoat is delivering the project on behalf of Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust in partnership with Sunderland City Council and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund which has given the project a £2.5million grant.

The new hub is part of the second phase of development of the MAC Trust’s masterplan for the area. Phase three will see the Mac Trust submit an application for £6million from Arts Council England to build a 450-seater auditorium on to the side of the Old Fire Station, which would host local and national performers.

Lee Francis, area director for Keepmoat in the North East, said: “The new hub and amenities will be a fantastic addition to Sunderland and will create a number of new jobs once the centre is operational. We will also be creating employment and training opportunities during the build process.

“We have an extensive background in the design, construction and refurbishment of iconic and listed buildings in the region. We have previously worked on the Grade II listed Seafarers Way in Hendon; as well as the Byker Wall estate in Newcastle and so we are perfectly placed to deliver this for the Sunderland MAC Trust.”

Keepmoat say they will be undertaking sensitive conservation restoration in order to retain the historic aesthetics while also creating a modern culture hub.

Visitors will be able to see the fruits of the labour once the Old Fire Station opens in autumn 2017.

Paul Callaghan of the MAC Trust said “We are delighted to be working with Keepmoat, a company that has demonstrated its expertise in restoring important historic buildings like the Fire Station. This is another important step in creating a cultural quarter that the people of Sunderland can enjoy and be proud of.”