BUSINESS leaders have backed the £10million redevelopment of a rundown site which expected to bring 250 jobs to Sunderland.
Merseyside developers Verum Victum have applied for planning permission to built a food store, retail units and offices on the former Jennings Motor Group site in North Hylton Road.
The scheme has been met with strong opposition from many residents and small businesses, who fear it will wipe out community shops.
Now Gary Hutchinson, chair of the Sunderland branch of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), has said it will bring a “welcome boost”.
“This is a fantastic development for the city and the wider region, and it will bring with it most-welcome employment opportunities and other associated benefits.
“The city and its outlying areas need this type of development on an ongoing basis to sustain and enhance our economy.”
Objectors have presented planners at Sunderland City Council with four petitions, with a total of 2,000 signatures, against the proposals.
As well as the impact on shops in North Sunderland, they are also concerned about traffic problems, potential antisocial behaviour and a surplus of food stores in the area.
Developer Terrace Hill is working with Sainsbury’s to create a store on the existing Jennings’ site in Riverside Road.
A new Morrison’s has opened in Castletown. There are also two small Co-op stores in the area and an Aldi off Wessington Way.
Objectors also claim there are unoccupied offices in the area, so constructing more will add to the over-supply.
Some Echo readers have panned the objectors online, branding them “nimbys” who were putting “petty” objections before redevelopment and jobs.
A spokesman for Verum Victum said: “The site has been vacant for several years and our aim is to create a vibrant new centre for north west Sunderland.
“We anticipate that the scheme will create a significant number of jobs in a variety of flexible full and part-time positions. The scheme represents a major private investment at a time of challenging economic conditions.”
A decision on planning permission will be made by councillors on Sunderland’s Planning and Highways committee.