A TORY leader for Sunderland claims plans for a modern “gateway” to the city lack vision.
Plans were recently passed by Sunderland City Council for a £13.4million revamp of the run-down St Mary’ Way area close to the Vaux site.
But Councillor Peter Wood, deputy leader of the city’s Conservative group, claims they won’t tackle potential congestion.
Work on the site is due to begin in May, with road improvements, and planners say it will transform the area into an attractive boulevard, creating a traffic-free area known as Magistrates’ Square.
As part of the plans, which were welcomed by members of the council’s Development Control South Sub-Committee, there will be wider footways, trees, a planted central reservation and dedicated bus lane, as well as a “super crossing” which will allow large numbers of pedestrians and cyclists to cross the new boulevard, giving direct access to the Vaux site.
They also say improving traffic flow on St Mary’s Way will help connect the Port of Sunderland with major routes in and out of the region, which could increase the chances of new contracts in the future.
However, Coun Wood said: “The Vaux site has been crying out for development for years, and the sooner we get on with it, the better – providing we get it right.
“It is important that we make it as easy as possible for people, especially on foot, to get from the rest of the city centre to the Vaux site.”
He said the plans have the three pedestrian crossing points all on the same level as the traffic, which will make the journey on foot longer and slow traffic along St Mary’s Way.
Coun Wood added: “The suggestion has been made – but ignored – that the road should be lowered for example. This would remove the pedestrian/vehicle conflict, making for a more pleasant environment and would enhance the new public open space proposed.
“Once the new bridge is in place, the expectation is there will be more business and therefore more traffic, all the way through the city centre to and from the port.
“The Bridge Street roundabout at the south end of Wearmouth Bridge and Wearmouth Bridge itself are already congested.
“Let’s address this potential congestion now rather than leave it another five or so years when it will be upon us. Alas, planning for the future requires more vision than this council is able, or prepared, to show.”