The long wait is finally over - more than 17 years after the brewery closed its doors, work on the redevelopment of Sunderland’s former Vaux site starts today.
The moment will be marked by the unveiling of a huge poster before Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson formally breaks ground.
He said: “This is a momentous day for Sunderland as work begins on this major redevelopment, on a prime site which has stood idle for far too long.
“A huge amount of work has gone into the plans and designs which will now start to see fruition; plans where local people and businesses have been able to give their feedback throughout the scheme to ensure we’re delivering what Sunderland wants and needs.”
This is a momentous day for Sunderland as work begins on this major redevelopment, on a prime site which has stood idle for far too long.Coun Paul Watson
Today also marks the start of the public consultation on The Launch, a massive structure overlooking the Wear which will mark the completion of The Keel Line sculpture from Keel Square and commemorate the city’s shipbuilding heritage.
The Keel Line, Launch and first building on the site are due to be completed in June 2018, in time for the Tall Ship Race’s visit to Sunderland
David Roberts, director of igloo, Siglion’s development manager, said visitors today would be able to see a presentation which will showcase the development.
“From 1pm to 7pm, the Keel Square big screen will showcase our proposals, with our team on hand to explain our designs.”
Vaux is the first of five areas of the city to be developed in a 20-year regeneration scheme overseen by joint venture company Siglion. Central to the £20million first phase is a 60,000sq ft office building at the heart of the 5.5-hectare site, along with infrastructure and landscaping work.
Siglion chief executive John Seager said: “It’s a huge step forward for the city today, and we’re delighted Siglion has successfully got work started on the Vaux site.
“This will have a transformative effect on the city centre, both during the building phase, and afterwards as we add to the infrastructure.
“This really is an iconic site for Sunderland, and will attract people, jobs and money into the city centre for years to come.”
Talking about The Launch, he added: “Following the successful collaboration Siglion had with artists in the Cultural Partnership’s 10 x 10 competition, we broadened that idea to bring together 20 artists in a design competition to create a great new addition to the city.
“We’ll be gathering feedback from people about the design at the consultation.”
The Vaux masterplan will include a hotel, food, leisure, residential and parking elements in later phases of the work and extend the amount of high-quality office space with the aim of creating a commercial community at the heart of the city.
The contractor for the first phase is Carillion.
Senior project manager Mike Rutherford said: “Today not only signals an important milestone for the iconic Vaux site but for the wider regeneration of Sunderland.
“This is a very exciting project which will help transform Sunderland, creating jobs, workplaces and new communities.
“We are proud to be part of the North East community, employing local people, delivering local projects and investing in our three apprentice training centres and are excited to play an important role in this project.”
The architect for phase one is Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) and the masterplan for the 5.5 hectare site is by Urbed.
*The Vaux site already has its first tenant.
One of Sunderland’s best loved snowdogs will be making the city his home, after a group of organisations banded together to buy him.
Tails of the Sea – which was in residence at Keel Square during the trail - will be permanently based on the Vaux site, after Sunderland BID, the Bridges and Siglion joined forces.
In the meantime, he will be going on display in Keel Square again, as part of Sunderland’s Frost Village.
Gemma Dishman, marketing and communications manager at Sunderland BID, said Tails of the Sea was the perfect pooch to remain in the city.
“All of the snowdogs have been fantastic but this one is of special significance and provides a link between Sunderland’s proud shipbuilding history and the exciting developments and growth which are now taking place,” she said.
“We had our heart set on this particular dog and so we were thrilled that we were able to come together and bring him home.”