£2m clean-up at derelict Sunderland Vaux site

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson with Keith Lowes, head of planning and environment, survey the former Vaux site, which is now in the hands of the authority after years of wrangling.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson with Keith Lowes, head of planning and environment, survey the former Vaux site, which is now in the hands of the authority after years of wrangling.
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REGENERATION chiefs will spend £2million to clear the Vaux site of rubble and remnants of buildings before development work can begin.

Officers celebrated last month when Sunderland Council sealed the £22million deal with Tesco to bring the former brewery site into public ownership.

Council workers have since been carrying out surveys and further exploring its potential.

Thousands of jobs should be created at a new city centre district including offices, apartments and retail units.

Keith Lowes, head of planning and environment, said: “We know what we want from the site – a new central business district which will become the Doxford International of the city centre.”

Mr Lowes said remediation work would start on site in the summer, and take between six and nine months to complete.

The aim is to get the site ready, so work can begin as soon as possible once a developer has been found and permissions granted.

The initial project includes demolishing remains of buildings, clearing rubble and filling in two wells. The site will be levelled out and an archeologist appointed, with a watching brief while work is carried out.

Mr Lowes said the original proposals put forward by regeneration agency Sunderland arc, and already given outline planning permission, would no longer be taken forward.

He also confirmed the site would take 10 years to completely develop.

The council officer was updating councillors at a meeting of the authority’s prosperity and economic scrutiny committee.

Chairman Michael Mordey said: “I think we’re all relieved that the council now actually owns the Vaux site, and we’re in a position to see some movement on the site.

“I hope to see some good progress in the very near future.”

Mr Lowes said the council was looking at short-term uses for the site, and temporary car parking was one possibility.

Coun Mordey asked what would become of the advertising billboards next to the site.

Mr Lowes said the council had inherited the boards from Tesco with the sale of the land, and would now benefit from their income.

He said the council was looking at retaining the boards in some form.

The council paid Tesco £22million for the 26-acre site, seen as key city centre development land.

The Homes and Communities Agency provided £20million, One North East £1million and the council paid the final £1million.

The council believes development on the site is key to regenerating Sunderland city centre, bringing thousands of people into a core retail and leisure area.

Tesco bought the site in 2001, but was blocked from building there by planning rules.

The supermarket chain gained planning permission for an alternative development site at Sunderland Retail Park, in Roker, last year.

This was seen as the deal-breaker which persuaded them to sell up at Vaux.