WORK is under way to demolish the city centre block which was formerly home to Brogan’s bar and Privilege nightclub.
Contractors have moved in to start clearing the Crowtree Road building which also housed Porterfield’s pub and City Limits takeaway.
The work is part of a £13.4million scheme to create a new pedestrianised square outside the magistrates’ court and improve traffic flow on St Mary’s Way.
Creating the new Magistrates Square will involve closing the road which currently links St Mary’s Way to the Bridges rooftop car park and Planet House flats.
Before that can be done, a new access route will be opened from the Londonderry pub in Crowtree Road.
Council leader Councillor Paul Watson appealed for the public to be patient with a project which has brought major disruption to the city centre: “The programme to realign St Mary’s Way and create the new public square is running to schedule,” he said.
“Contractors here are making every effort to minimise disruption to residents, shoppers, businesses and drivers.
“These Crowtree Road clearance works will be similarly managed, ensuring the site is contained and there is as little disruption as possible.
“We appreciate the understanding that everyone is showing – these are a major programme of works reshaping how the city centre looks and how space is used.”
South Street is being used as a works compound and is closed to pedestrians and vehicles for the duration.
Under the plans, Magistrates Square will be able to host markets, concerts, displays, festivals and big-screen events, while 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.
The proposals, unveiled in October, also include the idea of a “super crossing” which will allow large numbers of pedestrians and cyclists to cross the new boulevard, giving direct access to the Vaux site.
Although scheduled for demolition, Brogans and Privilege closed unexpectedly in May.
DJ Wee Phillie, who performed at the venues on Sunderland match days, said he had been as surprised as anyone by the announcement that the shutters were coming down.
“I did the Stoke game as usual,” he said.
“It was on the Bank Holiday Monday, it was a night game, and then I got a phone call the following day. I did not know anything about it before that.
“I knew there was a compulsory purchase order on the building for the new St Mary’s Way development, but I had no idea about the closure, it just came completely out of the blue.
“It was a total shock, really.”
Phillie – real name Phil Monk – is now performing at city nightclub Passion on matchdays.
“I had planned to take a season out and just enjoy going to the match, but when the phone was ringing off the hook, I did feel flattered,” he said.
“It was nice for that to have happened – a lot of people were asking ‘Where are you going to go?’”